Last week at World Aquatic Championships in China, South Surrey swimmer Richard Weinberger came within half a minute of an open-water title.
The 21-year-old Weinberger, a former Pacific Sea Wolves swimmer who now lives and trains in Victoria, ended up 16th out of nearly 70 competitors in the 10-km open water event.
His time of one hour, 54 minutes and 51.3 seconds placed him just 26 seconds behind the winner, Spyros Gianniotis of Greece.
Germany’s Thomas Lurz and Russia’s Sergey Bolshakov were second and third, respectively. Weinberger was the top Canadian.
The top-20 finish leaves Weinberger in good position to eventually qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics; he currently sits in seventh in Canada, with 15 qualifying spots available.
“I’m pretty pleased with my race,” said Weinberger in a release.
“I was hoping for a top-10, but I achieved most of my goals.”
The race was one of the toughest Weinberger has been a part of, he said following the race.
“The finishing sprint of the race was very challenging because the pace throughout was very fast. It was really difficult to get around guys,” he said.
“Great swimmers were falling off because the pace was so brutal.”
Weinberger followed his 10-km performance by participating in a five-km team pursuit – along with Canadian teammates Aimeson King and Zsofi Balazs; the trio finished 10th.
On the final day of competition, Weinberger competed in the five-km race, along with 51 other swimmers.
The race was so close, and the lead group of swimmers so large, that a winner in the race could not be discerned even through video review; some swimmers finished less than a millimetre apart.
Heat was also a factor in the five-km event, as Shanghai water temperatures reached up to 30 degrees celsius, according to a release.
Up next for Weinberger is the pre-Olympic 10-km event in London on Aug. 13.
Weinberger is no stranger to international competition, having swam in the last year at Pan Pacific championships, the FINA World Cup and Open Water World Championships, which were in Quebec last summer.