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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Getting A Good Start For Setúbal

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Although the Canadian women did not qualify yet to swim the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim in Rio de Janeiro like their male teammate, Richard Weinberger, their performance in the 10 km Olympic qualifying swim in Kazan, Russia was very promising. And they have another shot to make the Olympics.

The 21-year-old Samantha Harding, swimming in her third 10 km race, finished 27th in a strong 57-woman field. The start list included 5 of the 6 medalists from the 2012 Olympics and 2013 FINA World Championships who battled for 10 finalist spots in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Harding went out with the lead group and was seventh at the halfway point and in the top 20 after three 2.5-km loops in the Kazanka River.

I thought the first 75% was a big improvement. I can really work on the end because I didn’t have the stamina to stay with the lead pack at the end. But the first part was a lot better than the other 10 kms that I’ve done,” said Harding.

Up to 40 of the 57 swimmers made up the lead pack for most of the race. But on the fourth and final loop, gold medalist Aurélie Muller of France, silver medalist Sharon Van Rouwendaal and Italian fourth-place finisher Rachele Bruni took off.

They started to turn up their speed and I didn’t quite have enough to keep up with them,” admitted Harding. “But that’s something I can work on in the future, which I’m happy about.”

14 swimmers were about 20 seconds behind in a chase group that raced for the remaining seven Olympic spots. Brazilian Ana Marcela Cunha charged down a fading Bruni for the bronze. There were less than 30 seconds that separated third from 17th place. Harding followed at the back of the next group of 10, finishing with a time of 1:59.47.1, while Dusablon came shortly thereafter in 34th place in 2:00:35.0.

I saw some great things, some real potential. I think we’ve found some people that we can work with. I think this is the start for these guys,” said Coach Mark Perry. “We’ve found someone who really listens and can apply tactics to a race situation. There are some things we need to work on over the next 11 months before the second qualifier but I’m pretty confident that we can improve.”

The next FINA Olympic 10K Marathon Swim Qualifier will be held in Setúbal, Portugal in June 2016. The top 10 finishers will not participate, opening up the opportunity for the next tier of athletes to qualify for the remaining 15 spots.

We’re going to consider now based on the results here how we do our final selection,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson. “We’ll come back and publish that in due course, but our girls continue to improve, put themselves in good positions, and now it’s time to get things ready for next year.”

The official results are posted here.

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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