April 3, 2013, Minneapolis (ISN) – Paralympic champions Benoit Huot and Valérie Grand’Maison will be among Canada’s top swimmers competing at the Can Am Championships Thursday through Saturday in Minneapolis.
This is the only opportunity for Canadians to qualify for the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships set for August 11-17 in Montreal.
”Our swimmers are quite excited about this season which is very special with the worlds in our own country,” said Canada’s Para-swimming National Coach Craig McCord. ”This is a big difference from our post Olympic season in 2009 when the serious stuff only started in July.”
About 75 Canadians are expected to be among the 200 competitors at the event. The U.S. will also have a large contingent and swimmers from Europe are also expected.
”Some of the standards will be higher than for the London Paralympics,” said McCord. ”Our perennial stars will step it up but it will be interesting to see how some of our swimmers who were so impressive in London will respond to the challenge.”
There are little changes to Canada’s personnel from a year ago in London. Only visually impaired swimmer Amber Thomas of Drayton Valley, Alta., a Games bronze medallist in 2012, announced she is taking a respite from the sport this year.
At the London Paralympics last year, Canada’s Para swimmers collected 16 medals by far the most of any sport for Canada. Mortimer with two, Huot and Grand’Maison earned gold, all with world record times.
Youngsters such as Nathan Stein of Maple Ridge, B.C., Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and Brianna Nelson of Victoria also made international breakthroughs with silver medal performances.
”We’ve got two great events in Canada on the road to the Rio Games with Montreal and the 2015 Para Pan Am Games,” said McCord. ”With the excellent swimmers we have it’s going to be a great opportunity to showcase to Canadians what Para swimming is all about and what great athletes we have.”