September 25th, 2015


Xavier Desharnais continued to show this year he is Canada’s top super-long-distance swimmer. We are talking about those exhausting races that are more than 20 kilometres, held in gruelling conditions and take almost a regular workday to complete.

Desharnais in fact placed third overall on the FINA Grand Prix circuit in open water swimming in 2015. The season highlight was a successful defense of his title at la Traversee du Lac-St-Jean, a 32-kilometre trek in Quebec’s Saguenay region held in bone-chilling waters. This year officials described the conditions as the worst in 20 years as high waves made one of the toughest events in the world even tougher.

The 25-year-old finished in a time of seven hours and 20 minutes and 40 seconds. Ten swimmers in the world-class field couldn’t complete what is considered the marquee race on the circuit.

“I maintained the same level as last season and I feel my experience really made the difference this year,” said the Sherbrooke, Que., resident.

“I was among the strongest at the end of races and I was able to manage my energy a lot better.”

— Xavier Desharnais

He was also fifth and eighth at the following World Cups in Macedonia and Italy and ninth in the 10-kilometre at the World University Games.

While open water swimmers face jellyfish and even sharks sometimes, the biggest sting for Desharnais was falling short in his bid to gain a spot on the Canadian team for the 10-kilometre open water race at the 2016 Olympic Games. Olympic bronze medallist Richard Weinberger earned the right to be nominated by virtue of his top-10 finish at FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

“It was disappointing for me not to get the spot but at the same time Canada is going to be very well represented with Richard,” said Desharnais. “I was happy to come back from that and compete in the events I’m best in and be ranked third in the world.”

That strong finish has motivated him for the new CIS this season with the Universite de Montreal. He is completing his degree in arts in science (he already has one in kinesiology) and plans to apply for medical school.

“For sure I’m going to sit down and examine my options going forward,” said Desharnais. “I haven’t made my mind up for 2020 but I’m definitely going to see what the qualifying procedures and events are before making a decision.”


Source : Swimming Canada