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Open Water Trials back after four-year hiatus

News –

GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands – It’s been a long wait for the second “annual” Canadian Open Water Swimming Trials.

First held in 2019, the event on Grand Cayman gives the country’s best marathon swimmers the opportunity to compete for spots on the national team in an all-Canadian format. The Trials have been postponed and ultimately cancelled over the past three years and replaced by alternate selection methods, but will return to Governors Beach Saturday.

Four spots (two male, two female) representing Canada at each of the World Aquatics Championships and Pan American Games will be on the line in the 10-km race Saturday. Competitors will also contest a 5-km event Sunday as a second racing opportunity.

“We’re looking forward to seeing our best open water swimmers finally getting the opportunity to actually race each other in open water,” said Swimming Canada Distance/Open Water Coach Mark Perry. “It’s amazing that we can actually come down here and see these swimmers getting opportunities to go head-to-head.”

Action begins at 7:20 a.m. local time (8:20 a.m. ET) each day. After a total of 18 Canadians competed in 2019, the 2023 event will see 16 women set to race in both the 10-km and 5-km events, with 15 men taking part in the 10-km, and 13 in the 5-km.

“It’s really exciting that we’ve got such a big entry,” Perry said.

That includes 2019 men’s champion Jon McKay and women’s runner-up Chantel Jeffrey, who represented Canada at the 2019 world championships in Gwangju, Korea. Other names to watch on the men’s side include national team veteran Eric Hedlin, Montreal natives Ilya Kharun and Eric Brown, who have already qualified in pool events, and Liam Clawson-Honeyman of the High Performance Centre – Vancouver.

“The location seems great. It’s my first time here so I’m excited to swim fast,” said Clawson-Honeyman. “In some ways open water is more fun than pool swimming. You have a lot more of a chance to influence the outcome of the race. You’re not just in your own lane, you can use your tactics and better strategy to get ahead in the race.”

On the women’s side, Edmonton’s Emma Finlin has also already qualified for the pool team. She will go up against competitors such as Abby Dunford, her teammate at last year’s worlds in Budapest.

“It’s great to be back on Grand Cayman to offer this all-Canadian racing opportunity to our top marathon swimmers. We are looking forward to some great racing for spots on the national team,” said High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson. “We would like to thank our partners at the Cayman Islands Aquatic Sports Association for their support and all the work that went into making this event a reality.”

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