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World Championships Update in Times Colonist!

The podium can be fleeting.

Swimmer Richard Weinberger of Victoria found that out when he followed up his breakthrough bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics with a sharply disappointing 17th-place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

A chance for redemption comes today, when Weinberger jumps into the water in the men’s 10K open-water race of the 2017 FINA world aquatics championships in Budapest.

“I have worked hard and built up and am feeling really confident after the performance in Rio, which I was not happy with,” said Weinberger, from the Hungarian capital.

Weinberger was based in Victoria when he won his Olympic bronze medal at London in 2012 and gold medal at the Pan American Games in 2011 at Guadalajara Mexico. After a training switch to Vancouver prior to Rio, the Moose Jaw native who grew up in Saudi Arabia and Surrey before attending the University of Victoria, returned to the Island in September to again be under the tutelage of coach Ron Jacks.

“Ron was the coach who helped me fight for my Olympic medal, and we work really well together, so I came back,” said the UVic computer science major.

“It’s been awesome to be back at Saanich Commonwealth Place.”

Weinberger is a unique athlete who is attuned to things such as sleep patterns and how they affect performance. He is also singularly determined.

“I have matured a lot,” said the 27-year-old, who was eighth in the 10K at the last FINA world championships in 2015.

“I’m not going away. I’m back and I’m here until some young gun pushes me off. We have a great group that really works well together in Victoria.”

Indeed, Weinberger is among three of the six Canadian team open-water swimmers who train under Jacks at Saanich Commonwealth Place: Eric Hedlin was 14th in the men’s 5K on Saturday at the 2017 worlds in Budapest and three-time Olympian Stephanie Horner 28th in the women’s 10K on Sunday.

“I was excited going into the race. I had a good prep,” said Horner, who was a pool swimmer at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics, before switching to open water for Rio 2016.

“I did the best I could,” added the 28-year-old, who graduated with a commerce degree from UVic’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business. “Those girls are pretty fast out there. I had a solid first two laps. I need to learn to maintain that and push forward.”

Aurelie Muller of France, who has trained in Victoria with Jacks’ group, won the world women’s 10K gold Sunday.

Pool swimming runs July 23-30 in Budapest with three more Island athletes on that Canadian unit — 2016 Rio Olympics bronze-medallist Hilary Caldwell of Victoria in the women’s 100- and 200-metre backstrokes, Jeremy Bagshaw of Victoria in the men’s 400-metre freestyle and 4x200 freestyle relay and breakout 18-year-old Claremont Secondary student and Campbell River-product Mackenzie Padington in the women’s 400- and 800-metre freestyles.

The six Islanders in total are part of the overall Canadian swim team in Budapest consisting of 32 athletes, six open water, and 26 in the pool. Sixteen of them are Olympians, including Horner and Weinberger and Caldwell, and nine are rookies, including Padington.

The team was selected during the Canadian trials held in April at Saanich Commonwealth Place.

This is the first major international meet for the Canadian team in the post Ryan Cochrane era, as the two-time Olympic medallist from Victoria has retired. The face of the national team is now teenage sensation Penny Oleksiak of Toronto, who came out of seemingly nowhere at the 2016 Rio Olympics to win four medals.

*original story here