WINNIPEG – Aly Van Wyck-Smart of Toronto and her world championship and Parapan Am Games-bound teammates are showing a hot hand at the 2019 Canadian Swimming Championships this week.
Wyck-Smart, who has cerebral palsy and competes in the S2 Sport Class, has lowered Americas and Canadian records in the 100-m backstroke to two minutes and 41.98 seconds and the 50-m backstroke to 1:18.19.
“I swam better than expected, it’s a nice surprise,” said Wyck-Smart, 16, who trains with Variety Village. “I wasn’t really aiming to get best times. I just wanted to do my best.”
She was one of 18 para-swimmers named to Canada’s team for the IPC World Championships set for September 9-15 in London.
Breaking records is nothing new for Wyck-Smart. At the 2019 Canadian Swimming Trials she received a Best Swim award for the best performance by a female Para swimmer at the event, after setting a new world record in the SM2 150m individual medley.
So far at nationals she has won three gold medals in the multi class races. Rankings are determined on which swimmer is closest to the world record. Wyck-Smart won the 200-m freestyle, 150-m IM and the 50 backstroke.
World team member Sabrina Duchesne of Quebec City is also at her best right now. She lowered national marks in the S7 200-m freestyle clocking 2:43.18 and the 400-m freestyle to 5:29.21.
Two other world team members also broke Canadian records. Abi Tripp of Kingston, Ont., in the SB7 50-m breaststroke with a 42.21 and Nikita Ens of Meadow Lake, Sask., in the S3 50-m back at 1:14.47.
Not to be outdone are the young swimmers headed to the Parapan Am Games which run from August 23- September 1 in Lima Peru. A 13-member team was announced this past April.
Nicholas Bennett of Parksville, B.C., and Jacob Brayshaw of Coldstream, B.C., both broke two records. Bennett lowered the Americas record in the S14 200-m freestyle clocking 1:58.40 and the Canadian record in the 200-m individual medley with a 2:05.81.
Brayshaw notched national marks in the S2 100 back in 4:10.98 and the 50 back in 1:57.60.
Another Parapan Am team member Myriam Soliman of Saint-Hubert, Que., broke the Canadian mark in the S6 50-m butterfly (47.36).
Three other Para swimmers also lowered Canadian records. Tyson Jacob of Bromont, Que., broke marks in the S5 100 back (1:56.22) and the 50 back (51.36); Paralympian Tammy Cunnington of Red Deer, Alta., in the S3 50 breaststroke (1:12.55) and Hicham Boufekane of St-Hyacinthe, Que., in the S8 50 back (37.17).
Wayne Lomas, Associate Director of High Performance and Para Swimming National Coach for Swimming Canada, says this week’s performances show the Canadian Para swimming is loaded with talent and depth.
“This domestic depth, across all Paralympic Swimming Sport Classes (1 – 14), is a terrific sign for the quality, health and future of our Canadian High Performance Program,” he said “We are seeing a growth in both numbers and quality of performances in our swimmers with a Sport Class 2 – 5. This is the result of a deliberate strategy to identify and develop talented swimmers and coaches across this important part of our sport.”
There are more than 60 para-swimmers competing at nationals this week.
At the nationals in the multi class races, Wyck-Smart (200 free; 100 back; 50 back) and Bennett (200 free; 200 IM; 100 fly) are tied with three victories apiece; Matthew Cabraja of Brampton, Ont., has two wins (50 free; 400 free) while multiple Paralympic and world champion Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., (50 free); Duchesne (400 free); Shelby Newkirk of Saskatoon (100 back); Cunnington (50 breast); Samantha Ryan of Saskatoon (100 fly); Nicolas-Guy Turbide of Quebec City (100 back); Brayshaw (50 breast) and Jacob (50 back) have one win each.
Competition ends later today at the Pan Am Pool.