TORONTO – Para-swimming superstar Aurélie Rivard completed an unblemished week on Sunday night as the 2019 Canadian Swimming Trials came to an end at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
Rivard, who trains under coach Mike Thompson at the High Performance Centre – Québec, won the women’s 50-metre freestyle multi-class final in 27.84 seconds, adding to her earlier triumphs in the 100 and 400 free. Following the meet, the three-time champion from the 2016 Rio Paralympics was one of 18 athletes named to Team Canada for the upcoming World Para Swimming Championships.
“I approached these trials more like part of my training. I was not at my peak physically, but I still made top-five personal times, so I’m pleasantly surprised,” said Rivard. “I’m really happy with my performances and look forward to the coming months.”
The St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., native will compete at her fourth world championships in a few months. She claimed an impressive nine medals in her last two appearances, in 2015 and 2013.
“For me, the most important thing at worlds will be to set (personal bests). It’s the only thing I can control. It’s always exciting to compete at the world championships. People think it gets old, but it’s not the case. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Other Para-swimming multi-class winners on Sunday included Toronto’s Aly Van Wyck-Smart (Variety Village) in the women’s 150 IM, Saskatoon’s Samantha Ryan (CHP-Québec) in the women’s 200 IM, Alec Elliot of Kitchener, Ont. (Region of Waterloo Swim Club) in the men’s 200 IM, as well as Quebec City’s Nicolas-Guy Turbide (Club de Natation Région de Québec) in the men’s 50 free.
The final evening of the trials got off to an explosive start in the women’s 150 IM as Van Wyck-Smart shattered the SM2 world record by more than six seconds (4:50.33), while silver medallist Nikita Ens of Saskatoon set an SM3 Canadian mark (4:38.50).
Ens, who trains at the Saskatoon Laser Swim Club, repeated the feat in the penultimate race of the night, the women’s 50 free, with a new S3 Canadian standard of 1:16.38.
“It feels amazing,” said Van Wyck-Smart. “I’m pretty happy with my whole meet. But this is very exciting, I can’t believe it. It’s a great sign for the upcoming months.”
“I was hoping for it for sure,” said Ens about her back-to-back national records. “I’ve just been so encouraged by my coach, my parents, my whole family. Hopefully there’s more to come.”
Van Wyck-Smart and Ens are both set to make their world championship debuts later this year. Van Wyck-Smart received one more award before the night was over, the best swim of the trials by a female Para-swimmer (based on point charts), an honour that went to Nicholas Bennett on the men’s side for his victory in Friday’s 200 free final.
Also named to Team Canada was Turbide, Swimming Canada’s reigning male Para-swimmer of the year.
“This week’s meet was a little different for me. At most major international meets, I’m used to swimming my events closer to the end, it kind of helps me keep my focus for the entire meet. This time around, it was the complete opposite. My main event, the 100 back, was on opening day on Wednesday, so I had to adjust my planning and my approach a little,” said Turbide, a bronze medallist in the 100 back S13 at the Rio Paralympics. “All in all, I’m happy with how the week went. To go under a minute in the 100 back, I had never done that before at trials.
“This will be my third world championships, after 2015 and 2013. A world championship medal is one of the few things missing from my resume, so it’s definitely an objective for this summer.”
Canada’s 18-member team for the World Para Swimming Championships includes 13 women and five men.
The championships were originally awarded to Kuching, Malaysia. However, the International Paralympic Committee stripped Malaysia of the event because the Malaysian government refused to allow Israeli athletes into the country to compete.
A new location and dates have yet to be announced, but Vince Mikuska, Swimming Canada’s Senior Coach, Paralympic Program, said the delay hasn’t affected the preparation of the Canadian athletes.
“The preparation for everybody seems to be going well. Swimmers have some very impressive times so far since December. Everybody seems to be pretty much on track.”
Wayne Lomas, Associate Director of High Performance and Para-swimming National Coach, praised the depth of Team Canada is sending to the World Para Swimming Championships.
“This is certainly the strongest team that we were able to put together. We have an expectation of high-level performance to make the team. We know the athletes we send there will do a great job. They are the best team we’ve got available to us at this point.”
Lomas said the preparation and procedures for the world championships will replicate what the team will use at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. He didn’t want to predict how many medals Canada will win but expects a strong performance.
“I’m expecting a high personal-best count,” he said. “Medals will be a reward for athletes who swim faster than they ever have before when it matters.
“We can’t control what our competitors do and the variances of sport classes. But if an athlete swims the fastest they ever have at the world championships, I’m happy.”
The trials attracted 627 athletes (346 female, 281 male) representing 157 clubs. That includes international competitors from 21 countries.
“Swimming Canada would like to thank all the athletes, coaches, parents, and tireless officials and volunteers for contributing their time and passion to helping these athletes pursue their dreams of representing Canada,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi. “We are proud that every day we are working to make our sport a safe and inclusive environment for all participants. And of course we couldn’t do any of this without the unwavering support of the Government of Canada and our other partners and sponsors.”
Live results available here: https://results.swimming.ca/2019_Canadian_Swimming_Trials/
World Para Swimming Championships Team / Équipe des championnats du monde de paranatation
|Name / Nom||Club (incl. HPC)||Coach / Entraineur||Hometown / Ville|
|Cabraja, Matthew||Cobra Swim Club||Roopnarine, Ian||Woodbridge, ON|
|Elliot, Alec||Rouge et Or/Université Laval||Perron, Nicholas||Kitchener, ON|
|Leroux, James||Centre Haute Performance – Quebec / Rouge et Or/Université Laval||Thompson, Mike||Repentigny, QC|
|Turbide, Nicolas-Guy||Club Natation Region de Quebec||Pelletier, Marc-André||Québec, QC|
|Zona, Zachary||Centre Haute Performance – Quebec / Norfolk Hammerheads Aquatic Club||Thompson, Mike||Simcoe, ON|
|Bérubé, Camille||Natation Gatineau||McCord, Craig||Gatineau, QC|
|Bird, Morgan||Cascade Swim Club||Johnson, Wendy||Calgary, AB|
|Dorris, Danielle||Club Natation Bleu et Or||Allen, Ryan||Moncton, NB|
|Duchesne, Sabrina||Rouge et Or Université Laval||Girardin, Johanne||Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, QC|
|Ens, Nikita||Saskatoon Lasers||Kramer, Eric||Saskatoon, SK|
|Kisser, Danielle||Centre Haute Performance – Quebec / Rouge et Or/Université Laval||Thompson, Mike||Delta, BC|
|Morrier, Justine||Club Natation Haut-Richelieu||Latendresse, France||Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC|
|Newkirk, Shelby||Saskatoon Lasers||Kramer, Eric||Saskatoon, ON|
|Rivard, Aurélie||Centre Haute Performance – Quebec / Rouge et Or/Université Laval||Thompson, Mike||Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC|
|Routliffe, Tess||Centre Haute Performance – Quebec / Rouge et Or/Université Laval||Thompson, Mike||Caledon, ON|
|Roxon, Katarina||Aqua Aces Swim Club||Roxon, Leonard||Kippens, NF|
|Tripp, Abi||Kingston Y Penguins Aquatic Club||Keith, Vicki||Kingston, ON|
|Van Wyck-Smart, Aly||Variety Village||Jones, Ryan||Toronto, ON|