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Clouston named to World Aquatics Championship coaching staff

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VICTORIA – University of Victoria Vikes assistant swimming coach Ryan Clouston and alumnus Eric Hedlin clinched their spots on Team Canada at the Canadian Open Water Swimming Trials in the Cayman Islands this past weekend. Clouston and Hedlin will represent the UVic/Pacific Coast Swimming Club as coach and athlete on Canada's open water team heading to the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, from July 14-19. 

Clouston, who's in his 13th-year assistant coaching with the Vikes, will make his first trip to the world championships this summer as a team coach thanks to gold and silver medal performances in the 5km and 10km open water races by Hedlin.

The 2023 Canadian open-water trials were conducted Sunday over 10 kilometres at Governor's Beach in Grand Cayman with Hedlin placing second to Benjamin Cote of Calgary to take the two national berths.The former Vike and world championship veteran is a two-time world medalist in the 5-km distance, proving himself once again by taking home another 5km gold on Monday. 

In the 10km race, Hedlin set the pace early and led most of the way before falling to Erik Brown in the home stretch. The gold and silver medal performances earned both athletes a spot on the 2023 Pan American Games roster, which takes place from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5 in Santiago, Chile.

"Unfortunately I led the least important part of the race. I would rather lead into the finish, but I'll take it, it's good," said Hedlin, in a Swimming Canada release.

As Hedlin's coach, Clouston was selected by the committee to serve as a team coach headed to Fukuoka alongside Swimming Canada's distance/open water coach Mark Perry.

Clouston, who spent years coaching with open water pioneer Ron Jacks, has a pedigree of coaching elite open water athletes, including Olympic bronze medalist Richard Weinberger and three-time Olympian Stephanie Horner.

"This will be my first time coaching at a world championship, but I'm looking forward to the whole experience. I'm excited to work with Eric and see what we can do, and for the chance to work with the other great athletes. I'm also looking forward to meeting some really great coaches who I haven't had the opportunity to work with yet," said Clouston.

With Clouston as head coach, four athletes represented UVic/Pacific Coast Swimming at the Canadian trials in Grand Cayman, including Vikes alumnus Jon McKay who snagged a silver medal in the 5km, and second-year Vike Elijah Agostinelli Stull. For Agostinelli Stull, it was his first time competing in the open water.

"For Elijah, our main goals were for him to finish the race, do his best, and gain some experience. Experience is a big piece of the puzzle in open water," said Clouston. "In the next few years, as some of the older athletes retire, there is an opportunity in the sport for younger athletes to emerge on the scene and gaining experience now will be big."

Clouston and Hedlin will head to Toyota, Japan, on July 6, for a team training camp before the championships begin on July 14.

More details here.