INDIANAPOLIS – There were plenty of positive signs for Canadians as the Indianapolis leg of the World Para Swimming World Series wrapped up Sunday.
Gordie Michie capped the night with a bronze medal in the S14 men’s 100-m butterfly. His time of 1:01.79 further lowered the Canadian record he had reclaimed in the morning heats.
“It’s been quite a three-day meet, it’s awesome,” said the 23-year-old from St. Thomas, Ont. “I feel really amazing right now because in the morning when I was doing my activation all I thought about was swimming the 100 fly. I had a lot of confidence before the race in the morning session and was really surprised with the time I had. My coach (Penny Bosma of the St. Thomas Jumbo Jets) asked what the plan was for tonight. I said I wanted to go even better than I did this morning, I did it and I was even happier.”
Zach Zona of Waterford, Ont., won the S8 men’s 100-m fly in a personal best of 1:09.87.
“I’m happy with that,” said the 18-year-old, who will represent Canada at the World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico City from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6. “My approach to the meet was just to see how fast we can go in this moment. I’m not tapered or anything and it’s my first best time in almost two years in that event. A lot of it was race strategy, going out hard and trying to keep the kick strong in the back half. That worked very well I think.”
Tammy Cunnington, who will be Zona’s teammate in Mexico City, also earned a spot atop the podium. The 41-year-old from Red Deer, Alta., took the S4 women’s 100-m freestyle in 1:53.55, nearing her personal best.
“It was not the time I wanted but it was a good way to end a rocky weekend,” said the Paralympian, who represents the High Performance Centre – Quebec. “I don’t know if there will ever be a time on the clock I’m super happy about. I always want to be faster and improving.”
HPC-Quebec Head Coach Mike Thompson said there are many positive for Zona, Cunnington and his other swimmers to take from the meet.
“It was a really successful week. Everyone had about three swims that were right on their personal bests,” Thompson said. “We were in Colorado last week at altitude at the US Training Centre. We had a really good week with them and had the opportunity to race at altitude, then we came here and people were starting to feel really good.”
HPC-QUE swimmers Jean-Michel Lavalliere of Montreal (33.45 in S7 50 fly) and Paralympic medallist Tess Routliffe of Caledon, Ont., (1:16.45 in S7 100-m freestyle) both earned silver medals Sunday.
“The big thing is we’ve been going to a lot of age group meets during the year,” Thompson said. “Here Tess sees eye-to-eye a person who out-touched her in Rio, or made her 4th (at the Parapan Am Games) in Toronto or (world championships) in Glasgow so it means more than an age group meet.”
Miori Henault of St-Eustache, Que., was the other Canadian gold medallist, setting a new personal best of 1:08.61 in the S14 100-m freestyle. She also came third in the 100 fly at 1:31.73.
Most of the U.S. national team and a strong Australian contingent were in action at the meet, along with several Canadians, including three as part of Swimming Canada’s NextGen Train and Race Camp.
Senior Coach Paralympic Program Vince Mikuska led the team, which arrived in Indianapolis Monday, supported by Claude Picard of Neptune Natation. Selected swimmers were Michelle Tovizi of North York Aquatic Club, Riley McLean of KISU Swim Club (Vernon, B.C.) and Paralympian Danielle Dorris of Club de natation Bleu et Or (Moncton, NB).
Dorris came second in the S8 100 fly in 1:22.07, just .08 off her personal best from last year’s Paralympic Games. Dorris rose to prominence when she became the youngest Paralympic swimmer in Canadian history last year in Rio, where she had two top-15 finishes and helped the medley relay to fifth place and a Canadian record. Tovizi came fifth in 1:39.90, setting a personal best by five seconds.
“They were really tired today and swam really well. It was a successful endeavour for sure,” Mikuska said. “Michelle hadn’t really seen any international competition other than Can Ams, Riley got a little taste at Pan Ams (in 2015). It was good for them to get exposed to more international competition. They have to look after themselves away from home coaches, and be a little more independent with a little more responsibility.”
Meanwhile, three-time Paralympian and Rio gold medallist Katarina Roxon of St. John’s was third in the S9 women’s 100-m fly in 1:18.13.
Full results are available at http://www.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics/Sports/Swimming/Results