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Jul 13 19

Sarah Bacon wins silver on 1m at FINA World Championships

by ZwemZa

Sarah Bacon (NBC Sports)

Sarah Bacon (Indianapolis, Ind./Minneapolis, Minn.) became the first U.S. woman in 14 years to win an individual diving medal at a World Championships when she won the 1-meter silver on Saturday at the FINA World Championships.

Bacon finished with 262.00 points, edging Korea’s Kim Suji by 4.8 points for the silver medal. China’s Chen Yiwen took the gold with 285.45 points.

No U.S. woman had won an individual medal at a World Championships since Laura Wilkinson won gold on platform in 2005. The last U.S. woman to medal on 1-meter was Wendy Lucero, who won silver in 1991.

Bacon was in fourth place with two rounds to go but was just 1.2 points out of medal position. She came through with 54.60 points on a front 1 ½ with two twists to move into third place after her fourth dive and then overtook Kim for the second spot when she finished her list with 55.90 points on a front 2 ½ pike.

Bacon, who was competing at her first senior international meet and first international competition since the 2014 Junior World Championships, was aware of how close the contest was.

“I did know how close it was. Paying attention to the scores and being that close kind of gives me motivation going into my dives. It gives me a little more fire to perform them well,” Bacon said. “I could have hit one or two dives a little better, but it was a very consistent list.”

Bacon will compete on 3-meter later in the Championships and said she hopes to build on her 1-meter performance as she prepares for her next event.

“I think this will give me more confidence going into 3-meter, which is something I struggle with every now and then. Most of the time I perform better on 1-meter than on 3-meter, so being able to medal on 1-meter gives me more confidence going into the 3-meter event,” Bacon said.

Maria Coburn (Round Rock, Texas/Tucson, Ariz.) also qualified for the women’s 1-meter final and finished 10th with 237.75 points.

Michael Hixon (Amherst, Mass./Bloomington, Ind.) and Andrew Capobianco (Holly Springs, N.C./Bloomington, Ind.) advanced to the men’s synchronized 3-meter final and finished eighth with 388.08 points. The top three countries qualified teams for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. China’s Cao Yuan and Xie Siyi scored 439.74 for the gold, and Great Britain’s Jack Laugher and Daniel Goodfellow took silver with 415.02 points. Mexico also qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games after Yahel Castillo and Juan Celaya came through with 413.94 points for the bronze medal.

Olivia Rosendahl (Los Angeles/Miami, Fla.) and Zach Cooper (Greenwood, Ind./Miami, Fla.) scored 267.96 points to finish fifth in mixed synchronized 10-meter. China’s Lian Junjie and Si Yajie scored 346.14 points to take the gold.

Diving events at the FINA World Championships continue through July 24. Sunday’s competition kicks off with Murphy Bromberg (Bexley, Ohio/Austin, Texas) and Katrina Young (Shoreline, Wash./Tallahassee, Fla.) in the women’s synchronized 10-meter prelims, with the final set for Sunday evening. Briadam Herrera (Miami, Fla.) will dive in the men’s 1-meter final on Sunday afternoon.

Jul 13 19

Canadian champion has journeyed through desert en route to worlds

by ZwemZa

Kate Sanderson (Canadian Swimming)

Although she’s spent most of her life living in other countries, Kate Sanderson has always dreamed of swimming for Canada.

She’s swam in the desert, and through some extremely dry times in her personal life. She’s had swimming almost taken away from her, overcome and ascended to new heights, with more goals yet to achieve. The pursuit of those goals continues at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, Korea, where Open Water competition begins Saturday (Friday evening in Canadian time zones), with the 19-year-old set to swim in the 10-km, 5-km and 5-km team relay events.

Sanderson, her older brother Luke, and younger sister Claire were all born in Toronto before the family relocated to Indiana when she was three. By age 11 she was showing promise in the sport when her father Mark got a major opportunity to work in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi had few pools, and fewer still that would allow women to swim unrestricted. Despite her age, Sanderson took it upon herself to find a lane wherever and whenever she could.

She would often swim on her own, or alongside much slower men at a fledgling swim club. She remembers getting “What is she doing here?” looks walking into a pool full of men as an athletic blonde teenage girl from North America. One of the pools she found was 140 km to the northeast in Dubai, meaning she and her mother Jaqueline would spend about three hours driving for her to swim an hour and a half.

Their first breakthrough came when they found an American school in Abu Dhabi with a small team that allowed her to join their training group. The challenge was that practice ran until 7:30 a.m., with Kate expected at her school (25 minutes away on a good day) by 8. Not wanting to pass up the opportunity, she turned the backseat of the family’s Nissan Armada into her change room and breakfast nook in order to make it to school on time.

“She literally dried herself, brushed her hair and dressed in the car while it was moving. And ate,” Jaqueline Sanderson recalls. “I would be like, ‘Don’t get changed, there’s a bus coming and they can see in the car, wait, wait, OK, there’s a gap coming up.’ It was quite funny at the time.”

“I’d be like, ‘Is it safe to change?’ trying to put on my school uniform,” Kate says with a laugh. “I had a tie, plaid skirt, button-up shirt. It wasn’t even an easy uniform to get on in a car. That’s kind of a funny memory because of the stuff we had to do to be able to swim and go to school.”

After a year in Abu Dhabi, the family moved to nearby Qatar, where she found a more established program with coaches Evgeny Stolyarov and Raul Bernal. It opened the door to international competitions and the next step in her swimming development, but at one point her commitment became focused in unhealthy ways.

Sanderson was with her mother during a swim meet in Wales when she collapsed in their hotel room.

“I didn’t fall hard, just to the floor, and my mom was there,” Sanderson recalls.

The teenager had been struggling with an eating disorder, and the incident in Wales showed her parents how serious it had become.

“My parents, I don’t think they wanted to be like, ‘She’s really sick.’ At that point we thought it was under control. That was like the turning point,” Sanderson says. “I didn’t swim the rest of the competition, my parents flew me home and that was the beginning of when I stopped swimming.”

Sanderson’s symptoms included fainting spells and vision problems. The family sought help from medical professionals in Qatar and back home in Canada. As part of the treatment, her parents made the tough decision to enforce a ban on swimming training until Kate started eating more and returning to a healthy weight.

“When it first started I was like 125 pounds at 14, and I went down to like 89. It was really bad,” Sanderson says. “There’s no way you can be exercising. That was the hardest thing for me because swim was always something that gave me joy.

“The end of seventh grade and pretty much all of eighth grade I was in and out of the water. There was a period that I didn’t swim for like five and a half months. I was really sick.”

At the same time, the goal of returning to the pool eventually motivated her to overcome the disorder. Mark Sanderson still has the “beautiful letter” his daughter wrote him making an impassioned plea to allow her to swim again.

The teenage girl wrote “that swimming was going to make her stronger, she needed to do it, and that was her joy and what she did. That she could not be not doing it, and that Jaqueline and I were just wrong,” Mark says.

“I said (to myself), ‘It’s the only way I’m going to get back in the pool, I need to get weight on.’ My dad would make me shakes with like 1,000 calories in them and I can remember they tasted so bad. Once I put on some weight they started letting me swim a little bit at a time,” Sanderson says. “Then once I started swimming again I had more appetite and more motivation because I wanted to do it again tomorrow and enjoyed it a lot more. Within four or five months I was 15 pounds heavier.”

The family moved again in 2015, this time to Colorado Springs. And while she hadn’t completely overcome her eating disorder, Kate embraced healthier habits in a new environment, where her new coach Mike Doane became an important positive influence.

Doane, now 71, has coached Olympians in the pool and in triathlon, but admits he was out of his depth when it came to eating disorders.

“I said, ‘Look, I’m not going to pretend to understand what that’s all about. I just know you have a lot of potential and you have to be healthy.’ I think over time she bought into that,” Doane says.

“He was always non-judgmental and was helping me work through it,” says Sanderson, who gradually got healthier and healthier in Colorado. “The support system I had was enough for me to recover. For a really long time I never wanted to talk about it. Now I just regret feeling embarrassed about it because I know it’s something people shouldn’t be embarrassed or scared to talk about.”

By 2017, Sanderson qualified for a U.S. junior national team, and had a decision to make between her American and Canadian citizenship. There was never doubt in her mind which country she wanted to represent.

“Since I moved around so much, I always identified myself as Canadian. Home would be where I would go for vacations, for Christmas. All my family lives there,” she says. “That’s the place we go when you wanted to celebrate.”

Her grandmother, aunt and uncle on her mother’s side live in the Toronto area, and more than a dozen family members on her father’s side are in Port Elgin, Ont., on Lake Huron. In April 2018, her grandmother and aunt travelled to Montreal to watch her first competition in Canada, the 2018 Canadian Swimming Championships.

She qualified for the FINA World Junior Open Water Championships, then went on to the Canadian Swimming Trials in Edmonton, where she swam a personal best 16:30.83 in the 1,500 and made the team for the senior Pan Pacific Championships. Sanderson followed up with a 16:33.16 to finish 13th in the 1,500 at Pan Pacs, and gained experience with a 10th-place finish in the 10-km open water marathon. That set her up for an eighth-place finish at the world juniors, despite fighting off illness.

Mark Perry, Swimming Canada’s distance/open water coach, wasn’t surprised when she solidified her spot on the senior national team by winning the 10-km race at the Canadian Open Water Swimming Trials in April on Grand Cayman. Sanderson, who had led most of the race, made a tactical move to draft behind the men’s pack when it passed the women. That extended her lead and cemented her victory.

Perry was encouraged to see her applying what she learned from just a year of open water experience, which also included a camp based around the Best Fest in Mallorca, where swimmers received race analysis and learned tactics.

“She’s obviously consolidated all that experience and been able to come to the Trials and use her experience and actually make our world championships team for the first time,” Perry says. “I think she’s very mature and very driven. When you talk to her you realize she’s got great ambitions and she’s prepared to do the work to achieve those ambitions.”

Jul 13 19

South African’s underway in Gwangju

by ZwemZa


It was a slow start for the South African aquatics team at the 18th FINA World Championships, which officially kicked off yesterday in Gwangju, South Korea.

Gauteng diver Julia Vincent opened the Championships with a 4th place qualification in the 1m Springboard Preliminary round, scoring 241.35 points but fell behind in today’s final, concluding the event in an overall 12th position with 236.40 points.

Vincent, alongside team-mate Micaela Bouter, will also participate in the 3m Springboard event on Thursday, 18th July 2019.

KZN brothers Michael and Christopher McGlynn concluded the men’s 5km Open Water race in 22nd and 43rd place in 53:42.4 and 54:06.2, respectively, while in the first Artistic Swimming event of the competition yesterday.

Laura Strugnell and Emma Manners-Wood finished the Duet Technical Preliminary round in 42nd place with 65.4588 points.

Tomorrow’s action packed programme will feature Michelle Weber and Robyn Kinghorn in the Open Water 10km event, while the women’s Water Polo team will take on the Netherlands in their opening match of the competition.

Supplied by Swimming South Africa

Jul 13 19

Chinese divers plunder 10-metre synchro world title

by ZwemZa

GWANGJU, SOUTH KOREA – JULY 13: Gold medalists Yajie Si and Junjie Lian of China pose during the medal ceremony for the Mixed 10m Synchro Platform Final on day two of the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships at Nambu International Aquatics Centre on July 13, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

China’s teenage diving sensation Lian Junjie helped retain the mixed 10-metre synchro world crown by partnering Si Yajie to a crushing victory in Saturday’s final in Gwangju.

The 18-year-old successfully defended the title he won with Rio Olympic champion Ren Qian in Budapest two years ago as he and Si racked up a winning total of 346.14 points – a whopping 35 points clear of their nearest rivals.

Russian pair Ekaterina Beliaeva and Viktor Minibaev were distant runners-up on 311.28 points followed by Mexicans Maria Jose Sanchez and Jose Balleza Isaias, who took bronze with 287.64.

For Si, who took silver behind Ren in the women’s 10m platform at the 2016 Rio Games, it was a fourth world title.

She captured the 10m gold as a 14-year-old at the 2013 Barcelona championships, won the mixed synchro with Tai Xiaohu in Kazan two years later and partnered Ren to victory in the women’s 10m synchro in 2017.

Britain’s Robyn Birch and Noah Williams narrowly missed out on a medal in the first of three diving finals on Saturday.

The women’s one-metre springboard and the men’s three-meter springboard synchro take place later on Saturday.

All 13 diving events count as qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


Jul 13 19

Sun Yang withdraws from 1,500m freestyle at FINA worlds

by ZwemZa

Sun Yang (file photo)

China’s national swimming team confirmed on Friday that 1,500m freestyle world record holder Sun Yang will not take part in that event at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships. Instead, he will focus on the 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyle in what will be seventh time participating at the worlds.

Sun, who is world champion at both 200m and 400m, planned to take part in all four freestyle distances. However, considering the competitiveness and the tight schedule of these events, Sun decided to withdraw from the 1,500m in order to conserve his energy for the remaining races.

With the 800m freestyle set to be included in the Olympic swimming program for the first time at Tokyo 2020, Sun’s main focus is to win gold medal in this event at the Games. Sun ranks first in the 400m so far this year, and fifth and ninth in the 200m and 800m respectively.

Over 2,600 athletes from 194 countries and regions are set to compete in 42 events at the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. China will send 43 athletes to compete in the five major disciplines of swimming, open water, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo. The swimming events will begin on July 21.


Jul 13 19

Beach water polo makes its debut in Gwangju

by ZwemZa

Beach Water Polo in Long Beach California 2017 (You Tube)

Differing styles, the struggle with converting from seven a side to four a side, made for some interesting matches of the opening day of the FINA World Championship beach water polo tournament at the Nambu University Grounds in Gwangju.

Beach water polo — without the beach, sand and surf.

However, teams were making waves as they enjoyed the free-flowing style, the smaller goals, the shorter and narrower pitch without the single referee breathing down their necks.

The small pitch is anchored in the middle of the men’s pool and is quickly erected and decommissioned, making it the perfect venue for the sport worldwide, whether you have a pool, a beach, a river or a lake.

The game is fast, just three field players and a goalkeeper. The possession time is 20 seconds and there are two halves of 10 minutes’ actual time.

Substitutions are frequent, although the introduction of flying subs, as recently introduced to sevens water polo, would make the attacks faster and more dynamic.

The teams displayed various styles with some attacking quickly and others still playing the other game, dropping legs when goals were scored instead of crashing back on defence.

These are the first international matches at this level and this tournament is being used as a demonstration sport only.

For the record, where results are not the key issue in Gwangju, France beat Argentina 22-8 and Canada defeated China 24-14 in the men’s competition.

In women’s play, United States of America bounced China 27-10 and Spain had the better of Australia 17-10.


United States of America coach Chris Lee saw the match evolving swiftly and the tactics being fine-tuned on an as-needs basis.

“A lot of times we practise three on three on skills in normal water polo. There was an adjustment.

This was the first time we talked about actual strategy. We never put much time into it. Here we talked a little about it. We’ve never played in a course this size or goals this small. We were making adjustments from the very first minute forward. We have a very sharp group. When they came out of the water they had ideas. It makes my job a little bit easier. Pretty collaborative,” he said.

French coach Nenad Vukanic learnt some of his beach water polo tactics from watching the women’s match beforehand. “I saw something from the girls’ match where on contra-attack hesitating taking the shot led to a contra-attack at the other end. It comes to a fast conclusion and you must not hurry and make sure you score. Making a lot of fakes and a miss can lead to a contra-attack.”

He said it was the first time his team had played this style of game and that there were a lot of turnovers and you don’t have time to celebrate the score.”

He said it could be the way of the future, but not the same as normal six on six. “It’s a little bit difficult. When one team is a different class it is hard to stay in the match. If my (seven-a-side) team plays Italy we might resist for three-quarters of the match but here (four-a-side) it is not possible to catch up.”

United States of America coach Chris Lee saw the match evolving swiftly and the tactics being fine-tuned on an as-needs basis.

“A lot of times we practise three on three on skills in normal water polo. There was an adjustment.

This was the first time we talked about actual strategy. We never put much time into it. Here we talked a little about it. We’ve never played in a course this size or goals this small. We were making adjustments from the very first minute forward. We have a very sharp group. When they came out of the water they had ideas. It makes my job a little bit easier. Pretty collaborative,” he said.

Australia found the more agile Spanish a handful, however, both teams played the style required, including not hanging around for the penalty shot.

Morgan Baxter the Aussie team captain, revelled in the match. “It’s a really interesting style — fast and intense. There is no time to warm up. You have to be ready to go from the start. There is less emphasis on tactics, more technical. You have to be aware and use everything you’ve got. It becomes quite hard. You have to be ready to go at all times.”

With the comparative smallness of the pitch, she said that when you drive, “you take three strokes and that’s the end”.

Aussie head coach Taryn Woods, a 2000 Olympic champion, said: “We had a couple of hit-outs with some under-18 boys at home and then a short scrimmage against the Chinese here (in Gwangju). The game itself is not too different, but we expected the Spanish to be fast and mobile — this form of the game suited their style of play.”

She said “there was no time to breaststroke and no corner to have a breather”.

On Sunday, there are just two women’s matches — USA v Australia and Spain against China.

The next men’s matches are on Monday.

Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

Jul 13 19

USA chasing further glory in women’s water polo

by ZwemZa

The United States of American juggernaut will continue at the FINA World Championships women’s water polo competition starting at the Nambu University Grounds on Sunday, July 14.

There is little doubt Adam Krikorian’s team, that has swept all the major titles open to it, will be near the top, if not on top, as usual. It takes a hearty team to take it up to the North Americans and follow through until the final whistle.

South Korea will be making its debut at any FINA women’s level and the anticipation of playing Russia, Hungary and Canada must be exciting, if a little daunting.

Two teams will gain 2020 Tokyo Olympic tickets from Gwangju.

United States of America is pre-qualified after winning May’s FINA World League Super Final in Budapest, Hungary. Should USA fill a top-two slot in Gwangju, then the third-ranked team would be elevated to qualification.

Group A

USA is the perennial favourite and even though Italy put up a huge fight at the Super Final (one-goal loss) to give USA any pressure this year, pretenders to the throne could just be that. Netherlands, fourth at the Super Final this year, is one such team that could inflict damage when they meet in the second day of women’s competition. At the Super Final the difference was just two goals. New Zealand and South Africa round out the group and their clash on the second day will be eagerly awaited as one team slips into the top 12. At the Intercontinental Cup in Perth, Australia in March, New Zealand won 11-8 after being 6-6 at halftime. For the USA, pencil in Maddy Musselman as a prime attacker as she was named MVP at the recent Super Final and Makenzie Fischer who was best in water in the final. Also watch the Netherlands’ Maud Megens (NED) for shooting style.

Group B

Russia was the bronze medallist at Budapest two years ago and the silver medallist at the 2018 FINA World Cup in Surgut, Russia. Hungary’s sixth position in Budapest this year was once rung down the ladder from its Budapest 2017 finish. Hungary has to look back to 2005 and 1994 for World Championship success. Canada was fourth two years ago in a resurgence that gained silver at the 2017 Super Final, but slumped to seventh in Budapest in June in a tightly contested event. South Korea will find it a tough event to debut on the world stage at any level. Hungarian captain Rita Keszthelyi should thrill again with her firing arm while Russian superstar Ekaterina Prokofyeva will pepper opponents’ goals.

Group C

Spain was fourth at last year’s World Cup behind Australia and Miki Oca’s team will be out to emulate its sole FINA World Championship medal — gold at home in 2013 with a scintillating, all-the-way 8-6 victory over Australia. many of that team are here in Gwangju. Greece was seventh two years ago, failed to make the last two World Cups and has not been in the Super Final since 2012. The success of junior Greek teams in recent years could spell good news for the seniors. Kazakhstan will be bringing its experienced squad with an 11th placing in 2011 being the best of the last decade at this level. Cuba is making its fourth appearance at this level having finished 10th in 2011, 15th in 2007 and ninth in 2005.

Group D

Italy — the beaten finalist at the 2019 Super Final, comes up against Australia, China and Japan in Group D. Italy pushed USA all the way in Budapest and that form translated to Gwangju, could be a huge turning point in women’s water polo. Australia — winner of the Intercontinental Cup in March and bronze medallist at last year’s FINA World Cup — is capable of doing better than its fifth-placed finish in Budapest. With Bronwen Knox closing in on 400 internationals and Rowie Webster close to 300, there is plenty of experience and firepower to get back to the top level.  Asian teams China and Japan close out the group. China finished third in Perth this year and Japan fifth with the latter having the high-scoring pair of Yumi Arima and Akari Inaba. China has a wealth of international coaching talent, which might help reach fruition in Gwangju.


Following three competition days of round play, the competition is sorted into the top 12 while the last-placed teams in each group play for the last four rankings. A crossover day is scheduled for July 20 with the group winners having a day off. This is followed by the quarterfinals on July 22, the semifinals on July 24 and the final ranking round on July 26.

Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

Jul 13 19

First Gwangju 2019 gold goes to Rasovszky

by ZwemZa

Kristov Rasovszky (Getty Images)

Twenty-two year old Kristov Rasovszky of Hungary swam to an easy victory in the men’s 5km open water race claiming his first gold medal in Open Water events at the FINA World Championships. Logan Fontaine of France claimed the silver medal and Eric Hedlin of Canada was touched out by the French swimmer, earning the bronze medal.

Full Results

This was the first race of seven events to be contested over 6 days of competition at the Yeosu EXPO Ocean Park Open Water Swimming Competition venue. Sixty-one athletes started the race which was swum in near ideal conditions despite a slight drizzling rain. Only one swimmer did not finish.

The Hungarian swimmer handily outpaced his challengers, finishing in a time of 53:22.1 and more than ten seconds ahead of Logan Fontaine, the 20 year-old French swimmer. Rasovszky split 27:53.0 at the 2.5km mark where he was 3.6 behind the race leader, Fontaine at the midpoint of the race.

Close finish between Fontaine (FRA) and Hedlin (CAN) – Photo by gettyimages

Rasovszky represented his country at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Last year, he won the 5km and the 25km open water events in the 2018 European Aquatics Championships. In 2017, he won four FINA Marathon Open Water Swimming World Cup events. The Hungarian is the only one of today’s medallists who will be competing in the 10km event on July 16th.

Silver medallist Fontaine earned a silver medal in the 5km at the 2018 European Aquatics Championships finishing behind Rasovszky held in Glasgow (GBR). Fontaine was a member of the gold medal winning 5km Mixed Team event swum two years ago at Lake Balaton during the 2017 Budapest FINA World Championships.

The men’s 5km podium – Photo by gettyimages

Eric Hedlin, the 26 year-old bronze medallist from Canada, owns a silver medal from the 2013 Barcelona FINA World Championships. Officially, Hedlin’s time was 53:32.4, and 10.3 seconds behind the race winner, but the race for silver and bronze was regarded as a photo finish. Hedlin claimed a bronze medal in the 800m at the Universiade held in Kazan also in 2013. In 2018, he earned a silver medal in the 10km race at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships held in Tokyo.


Kristov Rasovszky (HUN), gold: 

“It was a huge race, great speed, no tactical swims, just go. I toyed with the idea to stay a bit behind before I geared up but there was a tremendous fight at the turns so I saw it was better to stay in front and not be part of that tussle. I launched my finish a bit earlier than expected but it all worked well. Now this is a great feeling, this gold eases the pressure before the 10km so I think I can show my real potential there.”

Logan Fontaine (FRA), silver:

“I’m extremely happy, as soon as I was with the Canadian in the finish lane, I knew I could touch in front. I saved my energy as I knew the finish would be fast. The Hungarian was stronger and I could not do better than second place. I worked all year very hard. The hardest this year was to come back after the disappointment on the 10km.”

Eric Hedlin (CAN), bronze:

“The course was beautiful, with very few waves, it was very straightforward, three laps. I felt good. The beginning was all about getting into a rhythm and conserving energy for the final sprint at the end. I felt like i had a back end, with much more (energy) than I had in the past. I felt that I was able to lift my legs even during the final sprint. Unfortunately, Logan (Fontaine) out-touched me at the finish. I am really happy with the result and very happy to be back on the podium.”

Greg Eggert, FINA Media Committee Honorary Secretary

Jul 12 19

FINA World Championships kick off with celebration of life, peace, prosperity

by ZwemZa

GWANGJU, July 12 (Yonhap) — The 18th FINA World Championships began Friday with an opening ceremony sending messages of life, peace and prosperity — in a city with a proud history of democratic movements and whose name translates as “city of light.”

The 18th FINA World Championships began Friday with an opening ceremony sending messages of life, peace and prosperity — in a city with a proud history of democratic movements and whose name translates as “city of light.”

Under the slogan “Dive into Peace,” the metropolitan city of Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, will host more than 2,600 athletes from 194 countries through July 28.

They will compete for 76 gold medals in six disciplines: swimming, artistic swimming, diving, high diving, open water swimming and water polo. Host South Korea will have its largest world championships team with 82.

With South Korean President Moon Jae-in in attendance, water was the central component of the opening ceremony, titled “Fountain of Light,” at Universiade Gymnasium on Kwangju Women’s University campus. Water brought in from more than 100 countries was poured into the water fountain at May 18 Democracy Square, a place that commemorates the pro-democracy uprising from that date in 1980.

According to ceremony director Yoon Jeong-seop, the message was about bringing peace and prosperity to mankind with water purified by the light of Gwangju.

“The keys to the opening ceremony were water, democracy, human rights, spirit of peace and art and culture of Gwangju,” Yoon said. “The central message is that water from around the world meets the light of Gwangju and solves environmental contamination and other problems that we’re facing today.”

Diving preliminaries were held before the opening ceremony Friday, and two South Koreans, Woo Ha-ram in the men’s 1m springboard and Kim Su-ji in the women’s 1m springboard, qualified for their respective finals.

The competition’s first medals will be awarded Saturday in the men’s 5km open water swimming, with finals in diving and artistic swimming scheduled later in the day.


Jul 12 19

Team Canada in final preparations for world championships

by ZwemZa

Penny Oleksiak prepares for her 100-metre freestyle heat at the world aquatics championships in Budapest, Hungary, on July 27. (AFP-Getty Images)

Team Canada is putting the finishing touches on its preparation for the FINA World Championships, which begin Saturday morning in Korea (Friday evening in Canadian time zones).

Canada’s first event will be the men’s 5-km open water race, which begins at 7 p.m. ET Friday. Raben Dommann of Vancouver and 2013 silver medallist Eric Hedlin of Victoria will be Canada’s competitors in that event.

Open Water continues through Thursday with the marquee events being the 10-km marathon. Toronto native Kate Sanderson and Victoria’s Chantel Jeffrey are set to compete in the women’s race at 7 p.m. ET Saturday, followed by Victoria’s Jon McKay and Vancouver’s Hau-Li Fan on the men’s side at the same time Monday. Top 10 finishers can qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“We arrived in Yeosu on Sunday and the accommodation, food and training facilities have been first class. The team are all very focused and looking forward to racing,” said Open Water Head Coach Mark Perry. “The open water team is a very inexperienced team with five of the six swimmers never having competed at a World Championships before; only Eric Hedlin has experience at this level and luckily he is racing on Day 1 and hoping to get us off to a good start.”

Meanwhile, the pool team is making its final preparations at Canada’s staging camp in Toyota, Japan.

“The staging camp based at Chukyo University in Toyota has started off extremely well and the facilities are world class. The location for the camp will provide an ideal environment for the team to fully prepare for the FINA World Championships in Korea,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson. “We have been made to feel extremely welcome by. Mr Shiehiro Takahashi and the staff at the University. They are putting out the red carpet for us and nothing is too much trouble for them.”

The bulk of the team left Canada Saturday and arrived Sunday after a long travel day and 13-to-16-hour time change.

“Our swimmers have settled in really well and are working on their bespoke plans as we get in to the final preparation phase. We have had relay team workouts, led by team Head Coach Martyn Wilby and High Performance Centre – Ontario Head Coach Ben Titley. They are great for continuing to build the relay culture of our teams.”

The pool competition kicks off July 21 at the Nambu University Municipal Aquatics Center in Gwangju, Korea. Canada’s pool team includes Olympic medallists Penny Oleksiak and Taylor Ruck (HPC-Ontario) and Kylie Masse (University of Toronto). Masse is looking to defend her 2017 world championship in the 100-m backstroke. Sydney Pickrem, who took bronze in the 400-m individual medley in 2017, is also back in action, as is 2015 400 IM bronze medallist Emily Overholt.

On the men’s side, three-time world relay medallist Yuri Kisil will look to build on his first individual international medal (bronze in the 50-m freestyle at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships.) Meanwhile, Overholt’s High Performance Centre – Vancouver teammate Markus Thormeyer also made an individual breakthrough in 2018 (bronze in the 100-m back at Commonwealth Games) and is growing into a leadership role on the team.

Visit for bios, profiles and preview stories, and follow Swimming Canada on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates throughout the championships.

FINA TV will also have coverage of all the pool action, while CBC/Radio-Canada will webcast pool finals, with highlights on the Road to the Olympic Games show hosted by Scott Russell.

Official meet website:

Open water results:

Pool results:

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