MONTREAL – Craig McCord, the head coach of Canada’s Para swimming team set 11 medals as the target for his squad at the International Paralympic Committee Swimming World Championships being held this week at Parc Jean-Drapeau.
Canada met that goal with a five-medal performance on Thursday night and are on track to surpass it with stars such as Benoit Huot, Valerie Grand’Maison and Aurelie Rivard still scheduled to swim on the weekend.
‘’Our target was 11 medals and we still have two strong days of racing ahead for us,’’ said McCord after Friday’s race which saw the Canadians not step on the podium for the first time this week. ‘’Our youngsters have really stepped it up and our veterans continue to do a great job.’’
Canada has collected three gold, four silver and four bronze after five days. Huot took his first gold on Thursday, Grand’Maison is a triple medallist so far including two gold and 17-year-old Rivard has made four trips to the podium.
‘’To win gold at a world championships at home is very hard and Benoit and Valérie overcame a lot of pressure,’’ said McCord. ‘’They seem to always come through for us. I was really impressed with our young women’s relay winning a silver medal as well. It augurs well for the future.’’
Fast times for Canada continued on Friday as Valerie Drapeau of Montreal and Morgan Bird of Calgary lowered their Canadian records in sixth place finishes.
Drapeau broke her record twice in the S5 100-m breaststroke initially clocking 2:07.59 in the morning preliminaries and delivering an impressive 2:05.04 in the final.
‘’I’m very proud,’’ said Drapeau. ‘’I was able to correct my turn from this morning. It was really fantastic to do this at home. The atmosphere was incredible.’’
Bird clocked 1:18.87 in the S8 100-m butterfly which featured a world record performance for Jessica Long of the U.S. The previous best for Bird was 1:21.11 set last year.
‘’This is the kind of time I wanted to have,’’ said Bird. ‘’My coach just told me to stay positive and focus on a long and strong stroke. I went for it.’’
Canada’s best result of the night was a fifth place for veteran Donovan Tildesley of Vancouver in the S11 100-m butterfly for blind swimmers.
‘’I was hoping to be in the medals but I was a second off my time in London,’’ he said. ‘’Still with all the challenges I’ve had this year I’m happy with the time and result.’’
Devin Gotell of Antigonish, N.S., and Nicolas-Guy Turbide of Quebec City were sixth and seventh in the S13 400-m freestyle and Sarah Mehain of Vernon, B.C., seventh in the 100-m freestyle.
Competitors in classifications S1 through S10 have a physical limitation, while classifications S11 through S13 are for competitors with a visual impairment. A lower number indicates a more severe condition.
The event has attracted 480 swimmers from 55 countries and is the biggest gathering of para swimmers since London 2012. Competition continues through to Sunday at Parc Jean-Drapeau with preliminaries at 9 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m.
Sportsnet One will be airing a 30-minute highlights package featuring Canada’s top performances in the pool. The shows will air at 11 p.m. ET from Tuesday through Monday, with the exception of Saturday (11:30 p.m. ET). TVA Sports will be presenting a daily show in French on its airwaves at 10 a.m. with an encore presentation at 2:30 p.m., from Tuesday through Monday.
Full results, schedule and start lists at: http://www.paralympic.org/events/montreal-2013/live-results