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The Globe and Mail

Canada wins Pan Am gold in open water swimming

Canada's Richard Anton Weinberger swims to win the men's 10km open water race at the Pan American Games at Los Muertos beach in Puerto Vallarta, October 22, 2011. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

Sergio Moraes/REUTERS

Richard Weinberger swam for nearly two hours and battled through heat and a frantic finish to win gold for Canada at the Pan American Games.

Weinberger, a native of Surrey, B.C., won the 10-kilometre open water swimming race Saturday at the Pan Am Games on a strong day on the water for Canada.

He covered the course just off the shores of Puerto Vallarta in one hour 57 minutes 31 seconds, edging American Arthur Frayler by three tenths of a second. Guillermo Bertola of Argentina took bronze in 1:57:33.9.

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"We didn't really have too much of a plan with the race, we just said 'Take it easy and just do what you gotta do'," Weinberger said after the win.

Weinberger's victory had to be confirmed by race officials with a video review.

Canada has won 52 medals at the Games, with 16 gold, 16 silver and 20 bronze. Canada sits third in the overall medal count, trailing the United States (135) and Brazil (56).

The race was held in the Pacific Ocean, with water temperatures nearing 30 degrees Celsius. High water temperatures in competitive outdoor distance swimming have been an ongoing concern since the death of American Fran Crippen.

The 26-year-old Crippen died on Oct. 23, 2010, during an open water swimming race in the United Arab Emirates. Several swimmers pulled out of the open water competition at the FINA world championships in Beijing on July 23 after the water temperature peaked at 32.6 C.

Although Weinberger said he was comfortable in Saturday's heat, he was not pleased with FINA's decision to allow the race to go ahead.

"Personally, I think it's really disrespectful to host races in that heat," said Weinberger. "It's disrespectful to the Americans, towards Fran Crippen, towards Fran Crippen's parents, family, everything."

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Weinberger went on to say that the temperature in open water swimming competitions is an issue that must be addressed.

"(Crippen) was fighting for more safety precautions in open water swimming and I think it's just disrespectful to him that they host races in this kind of heat," said the 21-year-old. "They know what the water temperature's going to be and yet they still host it.

"I think FINA has to do something about that because people can get hurt in that kind of heat."

Canada won three medals to kick off what's expected to be a strong performance by its water skiing team

Whitney McClintock of Cambridge, Ont., won silver in the water skiing overall event with while Aaron Rathy of Nanaimo, B.C., won silver in the men's wakeboard.

McClintock, a two-time defending world slalom champion, scored 2809.6 points to finish second behind American Regina Jacquess, who scored 2955.7 to lower her own world record. Karen Stevens of Iroquois, Ont., claimed the silver with 1862.8.

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"It was a little rough. I just skied a little under in every event of what I should have skied, and Regina skied above and beyond everything she could have skied," said McClintock. "She had a great day, and I had a really mediocre day.

"It's a lot of hard work for one medal."

McClintock will be a medal favourite in Sunday's slalom, tricks and jump events.

Rathy, 23, scored 72.67 points to trail Andrew Adkison of the U.S. (80.00). Marcelo Giardi of Brazil won the bronze with 65.90.

The wakeboarder, who looks like he walked off the set of "Point Break", wasn't aware of his finish until officials lined the athletes up to march to the medal podium. A young volunteer clasped the Canadian by the hand to lead him to the podium, prompting Rathy to turn to coaches and say: "I've got a girlfriend!"

"I was happy either way, I came here obviously wanting to win, but I was happy with a medal either way," he added. "Bronze, silver or gold, you're going home happy."

Andrew Adkison of the U.S. won gold with 80.00 points, while Brazil's Marcelo Giardi was third with 65.90 points at the event in Chapala.

The skiers griped about how slippery the green water was in the man-made water ski course — normally a private club — that's linked to Lake Chapala.

"I think there's some kind of chemical in the water and it's really slippery so when you're holding onto the handle it's really tough," Rathy said. "I tried not to let that get into my head too much."

In men's singles archery, Toronto's Crispin Duenas got the silver after losing in the final to American Brady Ellison. Columbia's Daniel Pineda took bronze.

Carol Huynh of Hazelton, B.C., won gold in the 48-kilogram division of women's freestyle wrestling, dispatching American Clarissa Chun by fall.

Tonya Verbeek of Grimsby, Ont., won silver in women's freestyle wrestling, losing to American Helen Maroulis in 55-kg division.

Earlier in the day, Calgary's Justine Bouchard lost to Argentina's Luz Vazquez on points in the quarter-finals of the women's freestyle 63-kg event.

Montreal's Vincent Gagnon also won a medal for Canada, earning bronze in men's racquetball. American Rocky Carson III took gold, while Mexico's Gilberto Mejia won silver.

Mexico's Alvaro Beltran also won bronze in men's individual racquetball, as semi-final losers earn medals in the sport.

Canada also took silver in the equestrian team eventing competition.

Elsewhere, Kyle Lotzkar of Delta, B.C., struck out six as Canada disposed of Venezuela 4-1 to reach the semifinals of men's baseball.

Canada beat Venezuela 10-6 in the preliminary round of men's baseball.

Kaleigh Rafter of Guelph, Ont., had two hits and three RBIs as Canada routed Venezuela 11-4 in the semi-final of women's softball.

Alisha Tatham of Brampton, Ont., led Canada with 17 points and four assists in its 59-57 loss to Colombia in preliminary play for women's basketball.

Canada drew Brazil 0-0 in a first-round women's soccer match.

Scott Tupper had a hat trick as Canada shut out Chile 4-0 in men's field hockey.

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