TORONTO (April 17, 2023) – Swimming Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee have announced Canada’s full swimming team selected to compete at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games.
Following their finishes at the Canadian Open Water Swimming Trials, the open water swimming athletes for the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games are:
Benjamin Cote (Calgary, Alta.)
Abby Dunford (Regina, Sask.)
Emma Finlin (Edmonton, Alta.)
Eric Hedlin (Victoria, B.C)Ottawa
The 2023 Canadian Open Water Trials took place Saturday and Sunday at Governor’s Beach in Grand Cayman. Finlin won the women’s 10km race Saturday, followed by Dunford in second place. In the men’s race, second-place finisher Hedlin and third-place finisher Cote were the top two swimmers to declare availability for Santiago 2023.
All four will also be part of Canada’s team at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan this summer. Cote, who earlier was named to the pool team along with Finlin, will be making his national team debut this year.
“I’m super excited to represent Canada at the Pan American Games,” Cote said. “I can’t wait to swim in both the pool and the open water.”
Dunford and Finlin were national team rookies last year and will join Cote in making their Pan Am debuts. Hedlin, meanwhile, brings a wealth of experience, including a ninth-place finish at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and two world championships medals in the 5km distance.
“Wearing the maple leaf always makes me so proud. I love representing my country and Canada takes really good care of us,” Hedlin said. “I’ve been swimming at this level now for 10 years and it’s been such a good journey.”
Open water swimming, also known as marathon swimming, will see 20 swimmers per gender racing a 10km course. The discipline has been on the Pan American Games sport program since Rio 2007, and the Olympic sport program since Beijing 2008. Canada has earned two Pan Am Games medals in open water swimming: a gold at Guadalajara 2011 by Richard Weinberger and a bronze from Rio 2007 by Tanya Hunks.
Mark Perry will serve as open water head coach, joined by Finlin’s coach Paul Birmingham as team coach. Bette El-Hawary of Halifax will be the team manager.
“It’s another opportunity for these athletes to race at a high level. It’s usually a strong competition with open water being such a primary sport in South America and it’s always good to race those countries. With it stepping into Olympic qualification at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in February in Doha, it’s a really good opportunity for them to race, then get back into a block of training to get ready to try and qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”
The four open water swimming athletes join 36 pool swimming athletes, 34 of whom were nominated to Team Canada earlier this month. Two other athletes who were originally nominated – Ben Miller and Rebecca Smith – have now withdrawn and will be replaced by:
Julie Brousseau (Ottawa, Ont.)
Kevin Zhang (Toronto, Ont.)
In addition, Montreal’s Greg Arkhurst will replace Mike Blondal, Smith’s coach, on the pool coaching staff.
All told, Canada has named 72 different swimmers (38 female, 34 male) and appointed 16 different coaches to its national teams across Pan Am Games, World Aquatics Championships and world junior championships.
“When you look at the number of athletes and coaches that have been selected now that we’ve completed the Pan Am Games nominations, there’s a significant number of Canadian athletes and coaches who are getting opportunities and experiences,” said High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson, who pointed out that six members of the Lima 2019 Pan American team made the jump to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. “That’s always very important in the year before the Olympic Games.”
Open water swimming at Santiago 2023 will take place on October 29 (Day 9) at Lagunas Los Morros.
“What great timing for the open water team announcement as we enjoy this ‘summer’ weather! As they prepare for Santiago 2023, these swimmers are sure to inspire Canadians to enjoy our country’s beautiful waters,” said Christine Girard, Team Canada’s Santiago 2023 Chef de Mission. “I’m excited to welcome them on the team and look forward to seeing them perform in Santiago.”
Team Canada’s new staff additions for the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games are:
Mark Perry (Ottawa) – Open Water Head Coach
Paul Birmingham (Edmonton) – Open Water Coach
Greg Arkhurst (Montreal) – Pool Coach
Bette El-Hawary (Halifax) – Open Water Team Manager
Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Team Selection Committee following its receipt of nominations by all National Sport Organisations.
Santiago 2023 will be the first time that Chile hosts the Pan American Games. The Games begin on October 20 and end on November 5, 2023, and will feature approximately 7000 athletes from 41 countries competing in 39 sports.