Swimming Canada Axes Open Water Championships, Eyes Late June for Pool Trials

The latest reevaluation of the calendar by Swimming Canada has led to the cancellation of Canadian Open Water Championships.

Swimming Canada is also evaluating contingencies for Olympic Trials in the pool to be held in late June.

The organization announced Tuesday that the Open Water event, scheduled for April 25-26 on Grand Cayman Island, has been cancelled due to the global coronavirus pandemic, citing the Canadian government’s advisory on travel abroad and a Cayman Islands restriction on public gatherings of 50 or more people.

The Canadian Open Water Championships were to be used as selection trials for the FINA Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier in Fukuoka, Japan, May 30-31, as part of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Games. Swimming Canada is evaluating other plans to get its swimmers there, if the event happens and travel to Japan is deemed permissible by the relevant health and government authorities.

“We now have more decisions to make with regards to the selections for the final Olympic Marathon Swim Qualifier,” High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson said in a press release. “As soon as these decisions have been made we will communicate the outcome. We recognize these are disappointing outcomes, however, we had to make these decisions and communicate them.”

Swimming Canada also set an April 6 deadline for a final decision on the Canadian Masters Swimming Championships, slated for May 22-24 in Etobicoke, Ontario.

As far as pool trials, the organization is acting in consultation with health and governmental authorities as well as with FINA and the IOC’s guidance on when and if the Olympics will be held. Trials were originally slated for later this month.

“This will all be dependent on the developing situation of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Atkinson said. “As the International Olympic Committee has said it is committed to holding the Games as scheduled, and our latest information from FINA is that the qualifiers will be held as scheduled, we continue to plan for Olympic qualification both in the pool and in marathon swimming.

“We must also recognize the window to get things done is getting smaller every day. I hope that FINA and ultimately the IOC are looking at the situation of athletes who are now unable to train around the world, the strain in many countries on their health systems, and societies in various stages of lockdown. Narrowing the window in which qualification needs to take place for athletes who have dedicated years of their life to pursuing excellence is creating additional uncertainty and stress in this very difficult world situation.”