LONDON – Nicolas-Guy Turbide finally put his hands on the one piece of hardware that had been missing from his impressive trophy case. The 22-year-old from Quebec City claimed silver in the men’s 100-m backstroke S13 Tuesday evening at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, marking his first podium finish in his third career appearance at the biennial event.
The championships, which also serve as the first qualifying opportunity for Tokyo 2020, run until Sunday at the London Aquatics Centre, one of the main venues of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Webcast is available on the Canadian Paralympic Committee and Swimming Canada Facebook Live platforms, with finals streamed on CBC Sports.
After placing second in the morning preliminaries in a relatively modest time of 1:00.45, over one second off his Canadian and Americas records of 59.28, Turbide stepped it up in the final and touched the wall in 59.70.
As good as he was in the evening session, Belarusian superstar Ihar Boki, the world record holder and two-time Paralympic champion in the event, won gold in 57.73.
Turbide had previously captured Paralympic bronze at Rio 2016, gold at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in Australia – where he set the Canadian and Americas marks – and gold at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto.
In two previous appearances at worlds, his best result in the race was a fifth-place finish in 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland.
“I came here with one goal, to win my first world championship medal. Now, everything else the rest of the week is gravy,” said Turbide, who trains at Club de Natation Région de Québec with coach Marc-André Pelletier. “I would have loved to set a personal best but I can’t complain with 59.70. It was still a great swim, and I’m especially pleased with my start and first 50, which was much better than this morning.”
In claiming silver, Turbide earned himself a nomination to the Canadian Paralympic Committee to represent Canada in Tokyo next summer.
“This bodes well for Tokyo, for sure. All I can do is keep working as hard as I have. I can’t control what other swimmers do. All I can control is my own preparation, and that’s what I intend to do.”
Wayne Lomas, Swimming Canada’s Associate Director of High Performance and Para Swimming National Coach, was thrilled for Turbide.
“Nicolas-Guy demonstrated again tonight why he is one of Canada’s most reliable international performers. It was also very exciting for him to secure his first ever world championship medal, something that had eluded him until tonight. He has prepared well all summer and stepped up tonight.
“Nicolas-Guy and coach Pelletier have a wonderful partnership that continues to reap rewards. They have made some changes to Nick’s strength and conditioning program this year which has allowed him to fully maximize his start and exceptional skills underwater. I am confident Nick will improve even more in time for Tokyo, something that he has now qualified for with tonight’s silver.”
Turbide was one of four Canadians competing in finals on Tuesday evening. He was joined by Alec Elliot of Kitchener, Ont., who was fourth in the men’s 200-m individual medley SM10, Sabrina Duchesne of St-Augustin, Que., sixth in the women’s 400-m freestyle S7, as well as 16-year-old worlds rookie Danielle Dorris of Moncton, eighth in the women’s 100-m backstroke S8.
Elliot came close to joining his 2016 Paralympic teammate on the podium, missing a medal by one spot despite obliterating his personal best time. He touched in 2:12.90, almost two seconds faster than his performance of 2:14.61 at the Canadian Trials in April.
After qualifying third in the morning in 2:14.82, the 23-year-old was neck and neck with the Netherlands’ Bas Takken at the last turn in the final but saw his rival close out the race with a great freestyle, in 2:12.07.
“Fourth is definitely a tough position to come in, especially by such a small margin, but I’m super happy with my race, it was a really great best time,” said Elliot, who trains at Club de natation Rouge et Or in Quebec City. “I think my fly was definitely solid, then I continued to build on that in the backstroke and had a great breaststroke to stay in the race. I just need to work on bringing home the freestyle at the end.
“At the last turn, I saw my Dutch rival and I knew that I needed to be ahead of him to get a medal. Unfortunately, I just didn’t have enough in the gas tank tonight to beat him.”
In the women’s 400-m free S7, Duchesne came to within 77 hundredths of a second of the national record she set a month ago at the Canadian Championships in Winnipeg, swimming the final in 5:29.98 after going 5:34.28 in the morning.
“I came really close to my PB. If I look back at 2015, I didn’t make the 400 free final then, so I was happy to make it this time around,” said the 2016 Paralympian, who also trains at Club de natation Rouge et Or, with coach Johanne Girdardin. “This morning I started a little too fast. Tonight, I started fast again and I faded a little in the second half of the race but the strategy was different, it was to race and keep up with my opponents, it was the best way to go.”
Dorris clocked 1:24.84 in the final of the women’s 100-m back S8 after going 1:23.91 in the preliminaries. Great Britain’s Alice Tai thrilled her home crowd with a winning time of 1:08.04, a world record.
Lomas was impressed with all three swimmers who joined Turbide in the evening session.
“Alex’s performance was terrific. A PB by 1.5 seconds in the final was a great reward for his hard work and commitment. He spent a lot of time during the preparation camp in Vichy fine tuning his skills, and they paid off in the final. His form so far this week is a testament to process and execution, and I’m glad to see him being rewarded with such a great PB.
“I was very excited for Danielle. She grabbed the opportunity presented to her with her second fastest time ever this morning to qualify for her maiden international final, and it sets her up well for her other races this week. It was also great to see Sabrina swim faster again tonight in the final. As she returns from surgery that impacted her training for quite some time, she is starting to regain the form that saw her represent Canada in Rio.”
Two other Canadians were also in action on Day 2.
Also making his world championship debut this week, 17-year-old Matthew Cabraja of Brampton, Ont., was 11th in the men’s 100-m backstroke S11 preliminaries with a time of 1:16.41.
In the women’s 100-m backstroke S14, Justine Morrier of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., placed 15th in 1:20.88. The 22-year-old national team veteran is making her third appearance at worlds.
The 2019 World Para Swimming Championships resume Wednesday with preliminaries starting at 10 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET) and finals at 6 p.m. (1 p.m. ET).
Webcast link: https://www.facebook.com/SwimmingCanada/