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Newkirk breaks world record twice, Rivard threatens at second night of Canadian Swimming Trials

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EDMONTON – One Para-swimming world record was broken twice, and another was threatened Thursday during the second night of the 2018 Canadian Swimming Trials.

Saskatoon’s Shelby Newkirk broke her own world record in the S7 100-metre backstroke in the morning preliminaries, then went even faster in the evening finals.

“I’m so excited about it all,” said the 22-year-old who has generalized dystonia, a progressive neurological disorder similar to Parkinson’s.

Newkirk began the day timed in one minute, 21.42 seconds, which knocked .01 off the world mark she set last year at the Para-swimming Canadian Open in Toronto. She returned in the evening and sliced another 1.29 seconds off the record.

“This morning I was really happy with my last 30 metres but the first bit I knew I could work on,” said Newkirk. “I knew if I could get that first 50 faster I would be able to beat it no problem. I’m going to keep training and try and go as fast as I can.”

Aurelie Rivard of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., served notice her world record in the S10 100-m freestyle is in her sights. Rivard, who won three gold medals at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, finished the multi-class 100-m freestyle in 1.00.42, just .35 off her world mark.

“Every since I broke (that record) three years ago I wanted to break it again,” said Rivard. “It’s on my mind every year. I would like to be break it. It’s been there long enough.”

Para-swimming legend Benoit Huot reached the podium twice. Huot was second in the multi-class 100-m freestyle in 57.73 seconds then returned to finish third in the multi-class 100-m backstroke in 1:05.01.

Huot, an S10 swimmer who has won 20 medals competing at five Paralympics, hasn’t decided how much longer he will swim.

“I’m not getting any younger,” said the 34-year-old, who is expecting the birth of his first child this fall and plans to pursue an executive MBA at Queen’s University.

“Life will definitely change in the next few weeks . . . with a little girl coming in the fall.

“After Rio I knew every moment I have the opportunity to swim and to race I need to embrace and enjoy because this could be it. I know that I’m close to the end. It’s been a great adventure. The only word that comes to mind right now is grateful.”

More than 400 athletes from 105 clubs are participating in the meet being held at the Kinsmen Sports Centre. Swimming Canada will select and announce its pool teams for next month’s Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo and the Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships in Cairns, Australia.

Besides Canadian swimmers, athletes from France, Peru, Thailand, Singapore, Scotland and the U.S. are also competing.

The Trials, which end Sunday, are being webcast by CBC sports at

Results and full meet information will be available at:

The men’s and women’s 100-m freestyle relay teams were decided, with the top four finishers in each race earning a spot on the team heading for Tokyo.

Olympic gold medallist Penny Oleksiak of Toronto won the women’s race in 54.75 seconds. Alexia Zevnik of Montreal was second in 55.07, Kyla Leibel of Red Deer, Alta., third in 55.65 and Maggie MacNeil of London, Ont., fourth in 56.05

“I’m not super happy with that race honestly,” said Oleksiak, who had qualified for the 4×200-m relay by finishing third in Wednesday’s race. “I made the team and that’s all I can ask for. I’ve been training harder than what’s showing right now so I’m excited to see what happens at Pan Pacs.”

The men’s race was a battle between two High Performance Centre – Vancouver teammates. Yuri Kisil touched the wall first in 49.14 seconds followed by Markus Thormeyer just .02 behind. Ruslan Gaziev of Toronto was third in 49.56 and Owen Daly of St. John’s, Nfld., was fourth in 49.67.

Kisil said he has some work to do before Tokyo.

“Just nail down the technique and the race strategy basically,” he said.

Thormeyer returned to win the men’s 100-m backstroke in 54.30.

“The fact I can execute both races to a pretty high standard is good,” he said.

World record holder Kylie Masse of Windsor, Ont., swam her first race of the meet, winning the women’s 100-m back in 59.05 seconds.

“The first one is always a bit more nerve-racking, I don’t know why,” she said.

In the women’s 200-m butterfly, Mabel Zavaros of Oakville, Ont., showed she’s prepared to step into the void created by the retirement of Audrey Lacroix, who competed in the event at three Olympics.

“Her going that fast really pushes me personally to do better,” said Zavaros, who won the race in 2:13.36. “I’d love to be where she is at because I really look up to her. Just having amazing athletes to follow in their footsteps is great.”

Mack Darragh of Mississauga, Ont., won the men’s race in 1:58.10.

In other races, Philippe Vachon of Blainville, Que., won the men’s Para-swimming 100-m multi-class in 1:01.76 while Nicolas-Guy Turbide of Quebec City took the Para multi-class 100-m backstroke in 1:01.06.

Peter Brothers, who swims for the University of Calgary Swim Club, won the men’s 1,500-m in 15.38.56.