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Open water trials cancelled, other events being evaluated

News –

Swimming Canada has announced further changes to its 2020 event schedule as the organization continues to monitor and react to the evolving global COVID-19 situation.

The Canadian Open Water Championships scheduled for April 25-26 on Grand Cayman have been cancelled due to the Government of Canada’s advisory on travel outside Canada and the Cayman Islands Government restriction on public gatherings of more than 50 people.

“We are in the midst of very difficult times that transcend sport around the world,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi.

Those championships were to serve as selection trials for Tokyo 2020 Olympic hopefuls seeking to advance to the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier set for May 30-31 in Fukuoka, Japan. Swimming Canada is evaluating an alternate qualification path should the qualifier be held and travel to Japan deemed safe.

“We now have more decisions to make with regards to the selections for the final Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier,” said High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson. “As soon as these decisions have been made we will communicate the outcome. We recognize these are disappointing outcomes, however, we had to make these decisions and communicate them.”

In the wake of last week’s announcement that the Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials would not proceed March 30-April 5 in Toronto, Swimming Canada continues to consult with team physicians and experts from partner organizations to investigate all potentially safe future options. The organization is evaluating contingency plans that may allow for a pool Trials to be held in late June in compliance with current FINA rules.

“This will all be dependent on the developing situation of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Atkinson said. “As the International Olympic Committee has said it is committed to holding the Games as scheduled, and our latest information from FINA is that the qualifiers will be held as scheduled, we continue to plan for Olympic qualification both in the pool and in marathon swimming.

“We must also recognize the window to get things done is getting smaller every day. I hope that FINA and ultimately the IOC are looking at the situation of athletes who are now unable to train around the world, the strain in many countries on their health systems, and societies in various stages of lockdown. Narrowing the window in which qualification needs to take place for athletes who have dedicated years of their life to pursuing excellence is creating additional uncertainty and stress in this very difficult world situation.”

In addition, Swimming Canada is evaluating the feasibility of hosting the Canadian Masters Swimming Championships May 22-24 in Etobicoke, Ont., and will make a final decision on or before April 6.