SPORTS

Pan Am newsmakers of the day: Canada's aquatic athletes

07/11/2015 11:24 EDT | Updated 07/11/2016 05:59 EDT
There was something in the water at the CIBC Pan Am Aquatic Centre on Day 1 of competition as Team Canada won two gold, a silver, and two bronze in the pool.

In the morning and afternoon, it was the synchronized swimmers who successfully defended both the duet and team titles for Canada.

For the duet pairing of Jacqueline Simoneau and Karine Thomas, the win means that they have successfully secured a spot in the Rio Olympics next summer.

In the team event, the Pan Ams acted as a good test for Canada as it prepares for the world championships in Kazan, Russia. That will be the first chance for them to qualify for Rio.

Canada has now won seven gold, 23 silvers, and three bronze overall in synchronized swimming at the Pan Ams, second only to the U.S.

At night, the divers took over. The 10-metre half of the Fab IV, Meaghan Benfeito (bronze) and Roseline Filion (silver), both stood on podium. They finished behind Mexican Paola Espinosa, who has now won three straight Pan Am titles. 

These medals add to a long list of accomplishments for both divers, who are two of the best in the world.

Benfeito adds this bronze to a gold from last year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, a bronze from the Guadalajara Pan Am Games in 2011, and a silver from the 2013 world aquatic championships.

Filion is no stranger to standing on the podium with Befeito. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, she won the bronze. This is in addition to the multiple times they have won medals as synchro team.

As a team, they have been to two Olympics and won bronze in London. They will look to turn their synchro silver from 2011 into gold in Toronto on Tuesday.

The biggest surprise of the day came in the men's three metre springboard final as 17-year-old Phillippe Gagne won a bronze. This was his first multi-sport event after he made his debut with the national team in 2013. 

Gagne improved from the preliminary round where he qualified eighth.

All six diving medals handed out Saturday were split between Canada and Mexico. Rommel Pacheco and Jahir Ocampo took gold and silver in the men's three-metre springboard for Mexico. Four years ago, Mexico won all eight gold medals in diving. Canada hopes to end that streak during these Games.

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