Grand’Maison’s gold caps successful Canadian performance at Para swimming world championships

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Louis Daignault (ISN)

August 18, 2013, MONTREAL (ISN) – Valérie Grand’Maison of Montreal capped a successful Canadian performance at the International Paralympic Swimming World Championships on Sunday with the gold medal in the women’s S13 100-m freestyle.

Canadian swimmers collected four more medals on Sunday to finish the seven-day meet with five gold, six silver and five bronze.

Brianna Nelson of Victoria and Morgan Bird of Calgary each added a silver on Sunday and Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., a bronze. The 17-year-old Rivard ends the meet as Canada’s most decorated swimmer with five medals while Nelson and Grand’Maison reached the podium four times each.

Grand’Maison earned her third gold clocking one minute and 00.40 seconds in a dominant performance. Rebecca Anne Meyers of the U.S. was second in 1:02.91. Rhea Schmidt of Winnipeg was sixth.

”This was a very special race,” said Grand’Maison, 24. ”It was my last race in Montreal, in the pool where I train and in front of my family. I really wanted to have fun with it. Even when I heard the crowd during my race I never panicked.”

In the women’s S7 200-m individual medley, Nikita Howarth of New Zealand took the gold in 3:02.70 edging Nelson, second in 3:03.04. Sarah Mehain of Vernon, B.C., was fourth.

”It stings a little bit to be so close to the gold but I’ve had a great week,” said Nelson. ”I wasn’t expecting these kinds of results. I steadily did best times and that was my big goal.”

World record holder Maddison Elliott of Australia won the women’s S8 50-m freestyle in 30.31 with Bird collecting her first individual medal in a Canadian record 31.73. She finished just 0.02 seconds ahead of third place finisher Kateryna Istomina of Ukraine.

”I wasn’t expecting this,” said Bird. ”I went in with the goal to just do my own races. To get a medal is the cherry on the cake.”

Sophie Pasco of New Zealand broke her world record in the women’s S10 50-freestyle clocking 27.78. Elodie Lorandi of France was second in 28.35 and Rivard notched a fourth individual medal in 28.87.

Camille Bérubé of Gatineau, Que., broke her Canadian record and was eighth in the women’s S9 100-m backstroke.

On the men’s side, Donovan Tildesley of Vancouver and Jean-Lavalliere of Quebec City were fourth in the S11 and S7 200-m individual medley, Zack McAllister of Lethbridge, Alta., and Chris Sergeant-Tsonos of Kingston, Ont., were sixth and eighth in the S8 50-m freestyle, and Maxime Rousselle of Quebec City and Adam Rahier of Surrey, B.C., were seventh and eighth in the S14 200-m IM.

Lavalliere and McAllister set Canadian records.

”We had a young team and it was great experience,” said Canada’s head coach Craig McCord. ”It’s really going to help us build towards the next worlds in 2015 and the Rio Paralympics in 2016. A swimmer like Brianna Nelson produced a gritty performance and showed a determination to get to the top that rubbed off on our team.”

The big events in 2014 for Canadian Para swimmers will be the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland and the Para Pan Pacific Championships in Seattle.