Canadians sharpen skills for next years Paralympic trials

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COLLEGE STATION, Maryland – Kirby Cote of Winnipeg, Jacqueline Rennebohm of Regina, Jessica Tuomela of Waterloo, Ont., and Valérie Grand’Maison of Montreal won two races apiece on Saturday to conclude the Can Am competition for swimmers with a disability.

Cote posted wins in the 50 breaststroke and 200 butterfly, Rennebohm in the 50 breaststroke and 100 freestyle while Tuomela and Grand’Maison were double winners in their respective 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle races.

Other Canadian winners were Stephanie Dixon of Victoria in the 100 backstroke – her fifth gold of the competition- Eva Hogan of Kingston, Ont., in the 200 breaststroke, and Kirby Stanczak of Windsor, Ont., and Darda Geiger of London, Ont., in their 100 freestyles.

On the men’s side, gold medal performances were posted by Brian Hill of Montreal in the 100 backstroke, Peter Havers of Victoria in the 200 breaststroke and Benoit Huot of Montreal in the 100 freestyle.

“All my swims this week were exceptional for this time of year,” said Hill, who competes in the S13 disability class for the visually impaired. “I worked on a lot of technical things in the preliminaries then tried to add more front end speed in the final.”

“This was a big competition because it was our last international test before the Paralympic Games trials next year.”

Huot was also happy to come back with a gold in the 100 freestyle after being disqualified a half-hour earlier in the 100 backstroke.

“I posted best in training times for almost all my events this week so it’s a good sign for 2008,” said Huot, with four gold this weekend. “I was fourth after the 100 freestyle prelims so I made sure in the final I had a much better start.”

Meagan Michie of Ottawa won silver medals in the 50 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke and Anne Polinario of Montreal was also a double silver medallist in the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle. Other silver medals were earned by Brianna Nelson of Victoria in the 50 breaststroke, Amber Thomas of Drayton Valley, Alta., in the 100 backstroke, Desiree Walsh of St. Catharines, Ont., in the 200 breaststroke and Dixon in the 100 freestyle.

On the men’s side, Donovan Tildesley of Vancouver took silver in the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle as did Devin Gotell of Antigonish. N.S., in the 100 backstroke, Joe Barker of London, Ont., in the 200 breaststroke and Drew Christensen of New Westminster, B.C., in the 100 freestyle.

Bronze medals were earned by Hogan, Stephanie McDougall of Coquitlam, B.C., Catherine Mitchell of Winnipeg, and Rachel Tavares in their respective 50 breaststrokes, Chelsey Gotell of Antigonish in the 100 backstroke and Laura Jensen of Fort St. John. B.C., in the 100 freestyle.

For the men Barker added bronze in the 50 breaststroke and Justin Kemp of London was third in his 100 backstroke.

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