Canadians settle for 11th in debut of open water relay at worlds
France takes gold in debut of event at world championships
Canada's Richard Weinberger, Stephanie Horner, Eric Hedlin and Breanne Siwicki completed FINA's first ever team relay in 11th place at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Hungary, on Thursday.
The new mixed relay format was a first at the world championships level and saw teams use a variety of strategies and swimmer orders to compete.
"When I found out I would be swimming first in the relay it ignited something within. Knowing I would be racing some of the top swimmers in the world really motivated me."
Weinberger had the team in third place after his leg of the race.
"I loved being a part of that," he said.
Horner, who swam the second leg, faced a number of men from competing countries.
"It was pretty cool to see the different strategies from different countries. On my part of the relay, my only job was to hold on against a lot of guys."
France ended up with gold, while the U.S. and Italy captured silver and bronze.
The team enjoyed the relay atmosphere in an open water race. "Relays are so fun, it's all about spirit. It's nice because you get to share the pain and you can't let your team down," Horner said.
Hedlin, of Victoria, agreed.
"I love relays, I love open water, so this is the best combination of the two."
National team rookie Siwicki was pleased with the experience.
"I thought it was good to be a part of a team with so much racing experience. It was great that we finished better than we expected to."
Mark Perry, Swimming Canada's distance/open water coach, was satisfied with how the relay completed the open water events.
"I think that was a fitting finale for the team. It was a great team performance," he said. "We leave Hungary with things each of the six swimmers know they need to improve and work on. As an overall Canadian team we've got things to work on to come back stronger and faster in the years leading into Tokyo."