The world’s best athletes in swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming have left Barcelona behind after two weeks of incredible competition at the 15th FINA World Championships. Canadian athletes certainly made good use of their time in the Spanish waters, capturing a total of seven medals, including three silver and four bronze.
Three of the first week medals came from the diving pool. Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion, who had won bronze at London 2012, came through with a career-best silver medal in the women’s 10m synchro event.
“It feels great to get that medal,” Filion said. “We’ve overcome a lot of challenges over the years and to have back-to-back international successes is very rewarding.”
Jennifer Abel, who had won Olympic bronze a year ago with Émilie Heymans, returned to the bronze medal position with her new 3m synchro partner Pamela Ware.
“I don’t think we have come close yet to reaching our full potential,” said Abel. “We have a similar style and show a lot of height and power on our dives. I’m excited about the future.”
Ware, who was making her world championship debut, had a doubly successful showing by winning a second bronze in the individual 3m springboard event.
“These are my first world championships so they would have been memorable anyway but [this] was a bit of a surprise,” said Ware. “I wasn’t expecting a medal.”
Also featured in the first week was open water swimming where the Canadian highlight was the silver medal by Eric Hedlin in the men’s 5km event. The world championship rookie was in elite company on the podium. He finished just behind Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia but defeated German Thomas Lurz who had won the last seven 5km world titles. It was just Hedlin’s second open water race.
The pool events for swimming took centre stage in the second week. Two-time Olympic medallist Ryan Cochrane became the first Canadian swimmer to earn six career world championship medals, surpassing Brent Hayden’s record of five. Cochrane took home his third straight world silver in the 1500m freestyle and added a bronze in the 800m freestyle to become just the second man to win three consecutive world championship medals in both events, following Australian legend Grant Hackett.
“To have six medals is something I always dreamed of when I was a young kid getting into the sport,” Cochrane said. “But that being said I always want better. I always want more and I think that’s what drives me every day.”
A pleasant surprise was Hilary Caldwell’s bronze in the women’s 200m backstroke. She had been 18th in the event at the London 2012 Olympic Games, but pushed herself to the podium by lowering the national record in each of her three rounds of competition.
“I was feeling really good. I was feeling fit, I was feeling good in the water and my backstroke was feeling great,” said Caldwell. “I was competitive with the field and I felt like I could be right in there. It’s pretty exciting.”
The next edition of the biennial event will take place in Kazan, Russia in 2015.