McGill’s Grand’Maison wins Paralympic swimming gold

Photo of Valerie Grand

Photo of Valerie Grand’Maison courtesy Suzanne Plunkett, Reuters

MONTREAL — Valerie Grand’Maison, a former McGill University swimmer, won Canada’s first gold medal at the Paralympic swimming world championships, Wednesday, taking the women’s 100-metre butterfly in the visually impaired category.

The 24-year-old sprinter from Fleurimont, Que.,won the race in one minute, 6.73 seconds, shaving less than a second off the world record which had stood for 17 years.

“It’s so cool to win gold at home,” the four-time Paralympic Games champion told the media. “The crowd was amazing.”

It marked her second medal of the event, held at the aquatic complex in Montreal’s Parc Jean Drapeau. Grand’Maison, who recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and history, collected silver in the 200 individual medley Monday, finishing 0.08 seconds behind American Rebecca Anne Meyers. The sting of not winning that race was still fresh in her mind.

“In the last 25 metres tonight I thought about that 0.08 seconds,” said Grand’Maison. “It was all about staying relaxed and focusing on my technique. When I touched the wall I was so happy. This is Canada’s first gold but not our last.”