SPORTS

Canadian diving's "Fab IV" headlines winter national championships

02/05/2015 06:20 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Canadian diving's "Fab IV" of Roseline Filion, Jennifer Abel, Meaghan Benfeito and Pamela Ware are expected to dominate their events at this summer's Pan American Games and be among Canada's top athletes to watch at next year's Rio Olympics.

They amassed 36 international medals combined last season and reached the podium in every event.

And together, they say, they're greater than the sum of their parts.

"I feel like we're in a girl's group, like in a pop band," Filion said, laughing. "It's so fun. We're really happy about each other's success, obviously. But we're able to, by being four girls, promote our sport and talk about diving and the whole movement of being an athlete.

"And by being the four of us, we have more visibility than if it was just one. We can bring the message to people louder, and bigger, and be more inspirational."

Filion, Abel and Benfeito are competing at the winter national championships this week at the Pan Am Sports Centre, the glistening $205 million aquatic facility built for this summer's Pan American Games. Ware is sidelined with a torn oblique muscle.

Staff at Diving Canada's office had been casually referring to their female stars as the "Fab IV" before figuring: why not package them together to help market the sport? The campaign includes a photo of the divers crossing the street in their version of The Beatles' iconic Abbey Road album cover.

"Fab" is also an acronym — F for Filion, A for Abel, B for Benfeito, and the Roman numeral IV is a stylized W for Ware.

Filion, 27, and 25-year-old Benfeito, compete on the 10-metre tower. The Laval, Que., divers were paired up in 2005 for the 10-metre synchro event. Their size — Filion is four-foot-10, and Benfeito about five feet — and their similar diving technique, made for a good fit.

"If you look at most of the teams, they sort of look the same, they're the same height and everything," Benfeito said. "So it does help us."

Abel, 22, won bronze in three-metre springboard with former partner Emilie Heymans at the 2012 London Olympics, and when Heymans retired, she joined forces with Ware. They won bronze at the 2013 world championships in their synchro debut, "and so, we knew we were a good team," Abel said.

In a sport where synchronization is everything, the bond between the four friends is obvious.

"I think it makes it fun because we all (win medals), and having (Abel and Ware) medal helps us want it even more, and when we medal, it makes them want it more," Benfeito said. "I think we just help each other perform better. We all know what we want, we want to beat the Chinese, and I think having the four that know that we can all do it, that helps us a lot."

The winter national championships are being used as a test event for this summer's Pan Am Games, at what will be the venue for diving, synchronized swimming, fencing, and modern pentathlon.

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