Canadian open water swimmers Harding, Dusablon earn valuable experience at Pan Am Games
TORONTO — Canadian open water swimmers Samantha Harding and Jade Dusablon used Saturday's 10-kilometre race at the Pan Am Games as a valuable learning experience.
The 21-year-old swimmers both earned top-10 finishes on the Lake Ontario course. That should give them confidence as they try to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia later this month.
"I think both of the girls are kind of at the start of their careers. It's a fairly new sport in terms of performance swimming in Canada so it's a case of both of them kind of learning from their mistakes," said open water lead coach Mark Perry. "The more races we can get them through, the more we can try and teach them."
Dusablon finished Saturday's race with a time of two hours four minutes 36.7 seconds, good for seventh amongst the 18 swimmers while Harding came in at eighth with a time of 2:04:37.7.
"It was a great race, I'm happy about the five first laps, I am just disappointed a bit because I lost the pack (during) the last lap," said Quebec City's Dusablon. "But I had a great finish, and I'm happy with that."
Added Harding: "It was good, it was my second race so I know I made some mistakes, but I'm excited to fix them in Kazan."
Eva Fabian of the United States won gold in 2:03.17, finishing just 0.1 seconds ahead of Venezuela's Paola Perez Sierra. Ecuador's Samantha Arevalo Salinas was 0.5 seconds off the pace to take bronze.
Kazan is where both Dusablon and Harding hope to qualify for next year's Olympics in Rio. In order to qualify, they'll need another top-10 finish.
"We'll do our best to be in that top-10 at the worlds," said Perry. "It's always our goal and their goal to be the best that they can, but if we have to come back and do secondary qualifier and try and get in through that secondary qualification or through the continental process, that's what we'll do."
The women will now head to Spain on Monday to train for the worlds, which runs July 24 to Aug. 6. Perry and the swimmers know there is lots of room for improvement.
"It's really important that we see them right so that we can assess where they're strong and where they're weak," said Perry. "They did make some tactical errors and they both know that and that's our job now to try and go and fix those when we arrive in Spain.
"There were a lot of errors in negotiating the buoys and in the feeding area. We've got some strategy that we'll discuss with them."
Dusablon is hoping her experience in Kazan during the 2013 World University Games will be an advantage.
"It was a good preparation and I think it was a good experience," she said. "I think it's a big advantage for me because I've been there two years ago so I think I have a good chance."
Harding, who competed in her first open water race in Mexico at the FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix earlier this year, is confident heading to the worlds.
"I'm very excited because the bigger your tactical issues, the easier it is to fix your time," she said. "I'm just excited to do what I can and I'm excited to work with coaches who know everything there is to know about open water swimming."
The Canadian Press