South Surrey swimmer earns spot at Olympic qualifying event

Richard Weinberger got closer to fulfilling his Olympic dream after podium finishes in South America.

South Surrey native Richard Weinberger got a little closer to fulfilling his Olympic dream in the last few weeks, after back-to-back podium finishes in South America.

Weinberger, a former member of the Pacific Sea Wolves Swim Club who now lives and trains in Victoria, assured himself a spot on the starting blocks at Olympic qualifiers later this spring after he snared a silver medal in a men’s 10-km open-water World Cup swim meet in Viedma, Argentina.

Weinberger, 21, finished the grueling marathon swim in one hour, 55 minutes and 29 seconds – just one second behind world champion Spiros Gianniotis of Greece.

Russian swimmer Yevgeny Dratsev placed third.

“It was a solid performance for Richard,” said his coach Ron Jacks in a release. “It was a tough race as the swimmers went against the current.

“Richard continued to solidify his position among the best open-water swimmers in the world.”

The silver-medal showing was the second podium finish for Weinberger in as many weeks; at the end of January, he finished third at a World Cup race in Santos, Brazil – a race that was also won by Gianniotis.

Canadian swimmers are currently vying for the chance to make the national squad that will swim at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

A spot at the Olympics would be the biggest achievement to date for Weinberger, who has been swimming in open-water World Cup events since 2010.

He’s already competed at a number of prestigious international meets, including FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships and World Aquatic Championships.