Swimming Canada to host inaugural World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships

OTTAWA, Feb. 3 /CNW/ - Swimming Canada received the great news today that its bid for the 2012 World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships, presented to FINA, the International federation for competitive swimming, had been accepted.  This inaugural event will be held in the spectacular Welland Recreational Waterway, located in the heart of Niagara, Ontario in August of 2012.

"FINA is delighted to award the 1st FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships to Canada," said Dr. Margo Mountjoy, member of the FINA bureau. 

"Canada has a longstanding history in open water swimming and in hosting FINA events having just recently held the successful FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships 2010 in Roberval, Quebec. The Niagara Region is an attractive and exciting location for these Championships," added Mountjoy.

"Receiving FINA's go-ahead in hosting another major international event in Canada is a great step forward for Canadian swimming," said Pierre Lafontaine, CEO and National Coach for Swimming Canada.

"Canada has a great tradition with hosting impressive international events, and we welcome the opportunity to set a high standard in hosting the first ever World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships," added Lafontaine.

As FINA revamped its international calendar last year, it announced that a World Open Water Championships for swimmers under the age of 18 would be introduced in 2012 in order to generate greater interest in the event. 

The 3-day competition is said to draw over 200 participants between 13 and 18 years of age from around the globe.  The list of events will include a 3, 5, 7.5 kilometer race for age groups 14-16 and 17-18.  A mixed gender 3km relay will be added to the schedule.

"The Welland Waterway and the flatwater centre is a perfect setting for open water racing," added Lafontaine.  "The water conditions are stable and the spectators are able to follow the race at arms length of the field of play.  It will make for a great festival of swimming."

Following the integration of a 10km open water event as part of the Olympic Games curriculum in 2008, many great pool distance swimmers have made the leap to adding the open water event to their list of specialty events.

Lafontaine says that open water swimming is growing in popularity, and hosting a World Junior Championships in addition to its FINA World Cup event in Roberval is part of Swimming Canada's objectives in further development the nation as a World contender.

Canada's track record in hosting international open water events is quite extensive.

It was said that IOC president Jacques Rogues witnessed the 10km open water event in the rowing basin during the 2005 FINA World Championships in Montreal, which sparked an interest in adding the event to future summer Olympiads.

Last year, Roberval QC was host to the FINA World Open Water Championships on top of hosting its annual Traversée du Lac St-Jean and FINA World Cup. 

"We would love to see a third World Cup event based out of the Welland and added to the North American leg of the FINA circuit," added Lafontaine. 

A local organizing committee will be created in partnership with the Welland Recreational Canal Corporation and Welland International Flatwater Centre (WIFC).  Stephen Fischer, Executive Director of the WIFC was "thrilled by the opportunity to work with Swim Canada in delivering the 1st FINA World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships in Welland and excited about the future and the potential of additional open water events being hosted at the WIFC." 


For further information:

Martin Richard
Director, Communications
Swimming Canada
Tel. + 1 613 260.1348 x 2002
Mob. + 1 613 725.4339
Email. mrichard@swimming.ca

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