VICTORIA – For the eighth time this year Valérie Grand’Maison of Montreal broke a world record. On Friday it was in the women’s 50-metre backstroke as the 10-country Can-Am Open Championships for swimmers with a disability got underway at Saanich Commonwealth Place.

The competition features Canada’s 21-member swimming team for the Paralympic Games set for this September in Beijing.

It is the squad’s last competition before the Games.

Grand’Maison, 19, is certainly looking strong after clocking a world record 33.74 seconds in the 50 backstroke for the S13 division for the visually impaired. That eclipsed the previous world mark of 34.17 set by Kelly Becherer of the U.S., last year. Becherer was second on Friday in 34.08.

“Even though the 50 back isn’t a Paralympic event beating Kelly tonight gives me a lot of confidence for the 100 backstroke at the Paralympic Games”,?said Grand’Maison, a quintuple world champion in 2006. “I know now that I”ll be able to go faster in the first 50 metres of that event and that?ll be my strategy this weekend. This is the last competition before the Games it’s important to determine those strategies as much as possible.”??

It was also a big day for 19-year-old Jacqueline Rennebohm of Regina. She broke Canadian records in both the 50 backstroke (clocking 38.20) and 100 butterfly (1:18.39) for the S12 class for visually impaired.

“I was excited with both performances but the 100 butterfly really stood out”, said Rennebohm. “It is one of the events I’m swimming at the Paralympic Games and it’s really exciting that I’m improving. I had a great start, being first in the water and the farthest out. My finish was also much stronger in the final than in prelims.”

Craig McCord of Vancouver, the Canadian Paralympic team’s head coach, was pleased with his troops’ performances.

“We really picked it up in the finals”, said McCord. “Right now we’re just looking for some solid races. The idea behind this series was to get the best possible racing out of the U.S., and Canada and that’s what we’re seeing.??

Competition continues through to Sunday.

Full results available at: