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Canada completes strong Para swimming worlds with two more medals

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Roxon, Routliffe add bronze to tally on last day

MANCHESTER, England –Canada’s Para swimming team sent a powerful message it’ll be a force to reckoned with next year at the Paralympic Games with its strongest performance in over 15 years at the 2023 Manchester Para Swimming World Championships which concluded Sunday.

Katarina Roxon and Tess Routliffe won bronze medals to cap the week-long championships that attracted 70 countries.

The nine gold medals this past week were the most for Canada since 10 at the 2006 worlds in Durban, South Africa (which had 49 countries) and the 19 medals overall were the highest total since 21 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands in 2010 (53 nations). The Canadians added four silver and six bronze along with its nine wins this week.

Roxon, who made her worlds debut on that 2006 team in Durban at age 13, placed third in the women’s SB9 100-metre breaststroke in 1:25.25. Anastasiya Dmytriv of Spain won the gold in 1:20.01 and Ellen Keane of Ireland was second in 1:21.43.

‘’I really pushed and fixed a couple of things up from this morning,’’ said Roxon, 30, the 2016 Paralympic champion in the event. ‘’One thing I remembered tonight was to have fun with it, just think of the technique, don’t worry about the placings and time. Everything will fall into place.’’

Routliffe collected her fourth medal of the competition placing third in the women’s S7 100 freestyle in 1:14.74. Morgan Stickney of the U.S. took the gold in 1:09.29 and Sara Vargas Blanco of Colombia was second in 1:12.15.

‘’My coach and I recently put the 100 free on my list of races,’’ said Routliffe, 24, also with gold in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke and silver in the 50 butterfly this week. ‘’We’ve been working on it and really happy with where we are at. It’s a fun race.

‘’These whole worlds make me really excited for Paris (2024 Paralympic Games).’’

Sabrina Duchesne of St-Augustin, Que., a bronze medallist in the 400 freestyle, was fifth in 1:15.25.
Two Canadians were in the women’s S10 100 backstroke final. National team rookie Katie Cosgriffe of Oakville, Ont., 17, was fifth in 1:11.64 and Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., was sixth in 1:11.68.

Rivard added to her legendary status this week with victories in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. She now has 19 career world championship medals.

‘’I’m so proud of our team right now,’’ said Rivard, 27, a law student at Université Laval in Quebec City. ‘’They really stepped up and I’m so happy to have a young S10 to racer in Katie with me. I’m really impressed and confident with the team heading into Paris and get that medal count higher than Tokyo.’’

Canada was seventh in the mixed 4X100 freestyle relay with Philippe Vachon of Blainville, Que., Zach Zona of Waterford, Ont., Rivard and Routliffe.

Alexander Elliot of Kitchener, Ont., was seventh in the men’s S10 100 backstroke while Nikita Ens of Meadow Lake, Sask., in her sixth individual final this week, was eighth in the women’s S3 100 freestyle.

“First and foremost, I would like to express the utmost pride and admiration I have for this team,’’ said Canada’s head coach Mike Thompson. ‘’Their performance at the World Championships wasn’t merely about the times in the pool, but more about the camaraderie, unity, and resilience they exhibited. It’s been a transformative journey, marked not just by remarkable performances but also by profound personal growth. These athletes have shattered expectations, forming bonds stronger than we could have ever anticipated, transforming into something more than a collection of swimmers.

This spirit of togetherness has made them more than just teammates. Their connection, empathy, and mutual respect are what truly distinguished us on the world stage. This spirit pushed each of them to be their best for each other. They will lean into this next year into Paris and beyond; rest assured, this is just the beginning.”

Canada’s team leader Wayne Lomas says it was a total team effort.

“We challenged the team to be the best they are capable of being, take strength from the team, enjoy their time together and take away valuable lessons on the journey to Paris.  In each front, they have succeeded.
“I’d like to pay special credit to the coaches led by Mike Thompson, for their professionalism and dedication.  Our team coaches, along with the expert support staff facilitated a high-performance environment that allowed the talent and character of the swimmers to shine.

In preliminaries, Aly Van Wyck-Smart of Toronto was ninth in the S3 100 freestyle; Angela Marina of Cambridge, Ont., ninth in the S14 100 fly, Nicholas Bennett of Parksville, B.C., 10th in the men’s S14 100 fly, Arianna Hunsicker of Surrey, B.C., was 10th in the S10 100 backstroke, Roxon was 11th in the S9 50 freestyle and Jessica Tinney of Toronto 13th in the S5 100 freestyle.

Bennett was one of Canada’s big stars this week at the worlds. The 19-year-old won his first career world title last Monday with a victory in the men’s S14 200 freestyle. He added a victory in the 200 IM and silver in the 100 breaststroke with Canadian records in both those races.

‘’I don’t think it’s fully seeped in what I’ve achieved at these worlds,’’ said Bennett, Sunday morning. ‘’I did what was absolutely right and it worked. I can’t even find the words, it so foreign to me what I’ve done at this level. It’s a completely new concept.

‘’My favorite moment was the first victory. They were 45 minutes behind schedule but I was still able to bring it back strong on the last 100. Everything was just snappier this week.’’
Danielle Dorris of Moncton, N.B., not in action Sunday, was Canada’s other top racer with four medals including two gold.

Canada’s medallists at the 2023 Manchester Para swimming World Championships.

GOLD (9)
Nicholas Bennett, Parksville, B.C., S14 200 freestyle
Nicholas Bennett, Parksville, B.C. S14 200 indvidual medley
Danielle Dorris, Moncton, N.B., S7 100 backstroke
Danielle Dorris, Moncton, N.B., S7 50 butterfly
Shelby Newkirk, Saskatoon, S6 100 backstroke
Aurélie Rivard, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., S10 50 freestyle
Aurélie Rivard, St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., S10 100 freestyle
Tess Routliffe, Caledon, Ont., S7 200 individual medley
Tess Routliffe, Caledon, Ont., SB7 100 breaststroke

Nicholas Bennett, Parksville, B.C., SB14 100 breaststroke
Danielle Dorris, Moncton, N.B., S7 50 freestyle
Tess Routliffe, Caledon, Ont., S7 50 butterfly
Abi Tripp, Kingston, Ont., SB7 100 breaststroke

Danielle Dorris, Moncton, N.B. S7 200 IM
Sabrina Duchesne, St-Augustin, Que., S7 400 freestyle
Shelby Newkirk, Saskatoon, S6 50 freestyle
Tess Routliffe, Caledon, Ont., S7 100 freestyle
Katarina Roxon, Kippens, N.L. SB8 100 breaststroke
Nicolas-Guy Turbide, Quebec City, S13 50 freestyle