Caldwell qualifies for Commonwealth Games

Hilary Caldwell qualified for the Commonwealth Games this July in Scotland. - File photo
Hilary Caldwell qualified for the Commonwealth Games this July in Scotland.
— image credit: File photo

Hilary Caldwell is preparing for another busy summer.

After an impressive performance at Canadian Swimming Trials earlier this month in Victoria, the 23-year-old Pacific Sea Wolves swimmer – who now lives and trains in Victoria with the national team – qualified to represent Canada at both the Commonwealth Games, set for Glasgow, Scotland in July, and Pan Pacific Swim Championships, planned for August on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Making the cut for the national team wasn’t as easy as simply ending up on the podium in a specific discipline in Victoria, either. This year, Swimming Canada has implemented new selection policies that focus more on choosing swimmers that coaches feel have the best chance to fare well internationally – both now and in the future.

Caldwell’s inclusion on the team had much to do with her bronze-medal performance in the women’s 200-m backstroke at last summer’s FINA World Championships in Barcelona. She was the first Canadian to medal in that event since 1978.

“Our selection policies this year for both teams were based on world standards,” said Swimming Canada high performance director John Atkinson in a release. “The established figures on the team like Katerine Savard, Ryan Cochrane and Hilary Caldwell will ensure there is experience.

“As they continue to progress… the team is poised to continue its progression to Glasgow and Gold Coast. It’s all part of the journey we have to the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.”

In addition to continuing to improve in her best event, the 200-m backstroke, Caldwell said she’s out to prove last season’s performance in the pool was no fluke, while also improving her time in the 100-m backstroke.

“One of the improvements I want see this year is my 100-m backstroke be faster,” said Caldwell, who represented Canada at the 2012 London Olympics.

“I would love to break the minute barrier. In the 200 I have to keep my times fast because my toughest competition comes from Commonwealth or Pan Pac countries.”

Other Pacific Sea Wolves swimmers to take part in the Victoria trials event included Edwin Zhao, who finished seventh in the men’s 800-m freestyle; Darian Fry, who finished with three personal-best times; Esmee Smit-Anseeuw; and Mason Lin, who had two personal-best swims.

Open water

South Surrey open-water swimmer Richard Weinberger was one the podium again last week.

The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist took silver in the men’s 10-km race at the Fran Crippen Cup in Fort Myers, Fla.

The competition was also a qualifying event for the Pan Pacific Championships, but Weinberger had already made the cut for that event after a 10th-place finish at a FINA World Cup event last week in Mexico.

In Florida, American swimmer Alexander Meyer won gold, in a time of one hour, 52 minutes and 47.39 seconds, while Weinberger clocked a time of 1:53:22.60.

Weinberger led for much of the race, but Meyer overtook him in the latter stages. And while frustrated to settle for silver, he applauded Meyer’s strategy.

“It’s not just the speed and strengths, but the smarts, too,” Weinberger said. “He knows there’s one side I like to breathe on so he gets on the other side so I can’t see him.”

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