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Stevens sets the tone with Parapan record on Day 1 in Santiago

News –

SANTIAGO, Chile – In her first multi-sport Games, Ruby Stevens broke the Parapan American Games record and won Canada’s first gold medal in 100-m backstroke (S6).

Touching the wall with a full body length lead, Stevens, who swims with Variety Village in Scarborough, Ont., touched with a time of 1:30.41, breaking the previous record by over 2.5 seconds (1:33.03). Stevens secured her spot on the podium by nearly four seconds over Vianney Trejo of Mexico who took second place (1:34.38).

“It doesn’t quite feel real, but it feels like a dream come true,” said the 21-year-old Stevens. “I don’t have any words on how excited and how happy I am in this moment […] All the emotions are coming at me all at once. I am so happy and grateful to be given this opportunity.”

This was Stevens’ second international competition, after racing at the World Series in Guadalajara earlier in the fall.

Tyson MacDonald won the first medal on the men’s side to take bronze in 200-m freestyle (S14). He touched the wall in a best time (2:01.61) with Brazilian Gabriel Banderia taking gold in Parapan American record time (1:56.30). This is the second appearance at a Parapan Am Games for the 27-year-old MacDonald. He earned a bronze in the same event at Lima 2019 and a silver in the 200-m individual medley.

“It feels so good to win bronze and moving up a spot coming into this meet,” said MacDonald, who swims with High Performance Centre – Quebec. “Going a time I haven’t gone in years is super special. The biggest thing for me was to come in and have fun. The crowd in here is so incredible, it’s so loud the fans are great. I just needed to trust my own race plan and having the coaches’ faith in me.”

Fernando Lu, the youngest member of Team Canada at just 16 years old, saw his first international podium finish taking silver in 50 free (S10). After being edged out of a medal spot earlier in the finals session in 100 breaststroke finishing fourth, he came back stronger finishing in second spot with a time of 25.28 behind Phelipe Melo of Brazil.

Racing continues until Nov. 25 with streaming on CBC Gem.