Anyone who thinks a 25K race could be boring was not at the Pan Pacific Long Distance Trials at the rowing basin in Montreal over the June 28th weekend.
Twelve men and 13 women started the race. At 5 kilometres there were 5 men in a pack - Alexandre Leduc (Laval), Liam Weseloh (NYAC), Dave Chisholm (Laurentian), Peter Londry (Laurentian), and Jason Singer (NYAC). At 10 kilometres, there were still 5 men in the pack. At 15 kilometres, there were only 4. Peter Londry had dropped back. Someone had to break soon.
At 17 kilometres, Leduc took off and Weseloh followed closely behind. Singer and Chisholm (who was swimming in his first 25K race) started to lag a bit behind. At 20 kilometres, it was Leduc and Weseloh alone. Chisholm was now about 200 metres behind and Singer was about 400 metres behind. For the last 5 kilometes, Leduc and Weseloh traded the lead each time they fed. Leduc, Weseloh. Weseloh, Leduc. The final 2 kilometre straightaway saw Weseloh take a slight 5-metre lead, and he held this until the final 500 metres, when Leduc slowly moved up.
They swam stroke for stroke into the finish and Leduc pulled ahead to out-touch Weseloh by less than 2 seconds. Two seconds in a 25K - it was the most exciting finish ever! And what was more important were the times. Leduc was 5 hours 15 minutes 26.8 seconds and Weseloh was 5 hours 15 minutes 28 seconds. Both men were well under the Pan Pacific qualifying time. Dave Chisholm was third in an outstanding time of 5:19+. Unfortunately Dave missed the Pan Pacific (3 per country) qualifying standard.
In the women's race, 13 women started the race. The race was very similar to the men's. There was a smaller pack of 3 women who jockeyed the lead back and forth several times. Heidi Lavasseur (LAVAL), Nathalie Sauvageau (CAMO), and Maxime Mentha from CAMO (in her first 25K) switched leads several times. With 2K to go, Mentha took a slight lead over Sauvageau. She increased this lead down the backstretch to win her first National Championship and to qualify for the Pan Pacific Championships.
Second was Nathalie Sauvageau. Like Dave Chisholm, she missed the qualifying standard for the Pan Pacifics. Third was Heidi Lavasseur.
Alexandre Leduc, Liam Weseloh, and Maxime Mentha make up the Pan Pacific Team for 25K. Based on the results of the American Trials and the Australian Trials, the Canadians have a great shot at a team medal at the Pan Pacifics. The swimmers will be shooting for individual medals as well. Bring on the gold!