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Zavaros added to round out Commonwealth Games contingent

News –

World junior champion Mabel Zavaros will make her return to Team Canada as Swimming Canada has made an additional nomination to the Commonwealth Games team.

Zavaros, who finished second to team member Katrina Bellio in the 800-m freestyle at the Canadian Swimming Trials held in Victoria in April, just missed qualifying for the team. She has continued training and racing with the University of Florida under coach Anthony Nesty and was ready to accept the spot created by the recent withdrawal of Penny Oleksiak.

“We are happy to be able to add Mabel to our team for Birmingham 2022,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson. “We would like to thank Swimming Canada’s selection committee and Commonwealth Sport Canada for acting quickly to approve the additional swimmer nomination and bring our team up to full strength. Mabel has been an asset to past teams and we are looking forward to her joining a strong group of Canadians at the Games.”

The addition of Zavaros brings the team to 30 athletes: seven Paralympic program swimmers and 23 from the Olympic program.

“Being back on the team for the Commonwealth Games is something I am grateful for and will fully soak up because I have learned these experiences can come and go very fast,” Zavaros said.

Zavaros, 22, made her senior national team debut at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, after a promising showing at the 2017 FINA World Junior Championships in Indianapolis. She was fourth in the 200-m butterfly at those championships, and took home a gold medal after helping the 4×200-m freestyle relay to the final. At the Games she made two finals, including a sixth-place finish in the 200 fly. She went on to win the 200 fly at 2018 Canadian Swimming Trials to earn a spot on Team Canada for the Pan Pacific Championships, where she finished sixth and made two other finals. She has won medals at the past three Canadian Trials, but fallen short of the senior qualifying standards.

“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a greater feeling than when I am representing Canada at an international competition,” Zavaros said. “The time I have been off the national team has made moments like this and many other moments this year a lot more special to me. I definitely took some time to stop and appreciate the people around me that have helped me grow in and out of the pool.”

Canada won 20 medals in the pool at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia with 3 gold, eleven silver and 6 bronze medals. That was Canada’s third-largest swimming medal haul, behind only Auckland 1990 (23 medals) and Kuala Lumpur 1998 (21).

The list includes defending 100-m and 200-m backstroke Commonwealth Games Champion Kylie Masse, and returning Commonwealth medallists Aurelie Rivard, Kayla Sanchez, and Rebecca Smith. National team veteran Katerine Savard, the 100-m butterfly champion from Glasgow 2014 and former Games record holder, makes her return to the Games after sitting out in 2018.

Meanwhile, Swimming Canada’s 2021 Junior Male Swimmer of the Year Josh Liendo, fresh off a three-medal performance at last year’s FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) will be among the rookies to watch, as will his Junior Female Swimmer of the Year counterpart, 15-year-old High Performance Centre – Ontario teammate Summer McIntosh, winner of four events at Trials.

Rivard is competing at the World Para Swimming Championships this week in Madeira, Portugal, while the others are preparing for the FINA World Championships to kick off Saturday in Budapest, Hungary.

Commonwealth Games swimming competition will take place July 29 to Aug. 3 at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre. Atkinson will serve as team leader, with Senior Coach, Olympic Program Martyn Wilby as head coach. The team will gather in Caen, France, for its staging camp before travelling into Birmingham.