Road To The Olympic Games

Aquatics·WORLD AQUATICS

Canada falls to Russia in women's water polo opener

Canada lost its opening game 18-10 at the world aquatics championships on Sunday, in Gwangju, South Korea.

China's Xin Xin wins women's 10-K open water event

Canada suffered a 18-10 defeat to Russia in its opening game at the world aquatics championships on Sunday, in Gwangju, South Korea. (@waterpolocanada/Twitter)

The Canadian women's water polo team lost its opening match at the world aquatics championships on Sunday, in Gwangju, South Korea.

Facing Group B opponent Russia, Canada fell behind early and struggled to close the gap in an eventual 18-10 loss.

Kyra Christams led the way for Canada with a hat trick. While Hayley McKelvey added a pair with additional scoring from Elyse Lemay-Lavoie, Axelle Crevier, Kelly McKee, Emma Wright and Monika Eggens.

Canada returns to the pool on Monday to face Hungary, before closing out the group stage on Thursday against South Korea.

Xin wins 10-open water 

Xin Xin of China won the women's 10-kilometre open water event Sunday, lifting China to its fourth gold medal of the world swimming championships.

Xin finished in a time of one hour, 54 minutes, 47:20 seconds. The 22-year old, who finished fourth in the same event at the Rio Olympics, is now guaranteed a spot at next year's Olympics in Tokyo.

Haley Anderson of the U.S. took silver, 0.90 seconds behind, and Italy's Rachele Bruni finished third to take bronze, 1.80 seconds behind Anderson.

From right to left: silver medalist Haley Anderson of the United States, gold medalist Xin Xin of China and bronze medalist Rachele Bruni of Italy. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

"My goal before this competition was to qualify for the Olympics," said Xia, who will compete in her third Olympics at Tokyo. "I believe that I can race better and better in the future."

"My strategy today was to relax and save energy in the first half, and to keep clear in the mind and also to keep the confidence in myself."

In a frantic finish a large pack of swimmers jostled for a top-ten placing which would earn qualification for next year's Olympics, with Xin and Anderson surging ahead in the final 20 metres to claim top spots on the podium.

American Ashley Twichell finished seventh to join Anderson in qualifying for Tokyo, as did reigning Olympic champion Sharon Van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands who finished tenth.

"It was always my goal to be on the podium here, it wasn't just about finishing in the top 10 today," said Anderson, who won silver at the London Olympics in 2012. "I am really excited about how I finished, not just where I finished. This is a great set up for me for the Olympics next summer."

Canada's Kate Sanderson finished 35th in the women's 10-K open water event at the world aquatics championships in Gwangju, South Korea on Sunday. (@SwimmingCanada/Twitter)

Toronto native Kate Sanderson was the top Canadian (35th), while Chantel Jeffrey of Victory, B.C., came in 45th. 

Sanderson called the race "a really good learning experience.

"This was a lot faster and a lot more aggressive. There was a couple times I got hit really hard in the face or someone grabbed my shoulder or ankle," she said. "Everyone no matter what lap it was, was going for it."

On Saturday, Kristof Rasovszky of Hungary won the men's 5-kilometre open water event to claim the first medal of the world swimming championships, before China completed a sweep of all three diving events on the opening day.

CBCSports.ca has live, every day, online coverage of the aquatics championship.

With files from CBC Sports

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