PASADENA, Calif. – Nineteen-time Paralympic medallist Benoit Huot of Longueuil, Que., and world champion Brianna Nelson of Victoria headline a 32-member Canadian Para-swimming team for the Para Pan Pacific Championships set for this Wednesday to Sunday (August 6-10) at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Centre.
The competition is the biggest event of the year for Canada’s Para-swimming squad. They will face their biggest rivals in the sport including the U.S.
‘’This is going to be a tough competition for us,’’ said Craig McCord, Swimming Canada’s Para-swimming head coach. ‘’We’re excited about seeing a lot newcomers compete at this level and our veterans have looked really good in training.’’
Besides Huot and Nelson, top Canadians to watch include Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu,Que., Morgan Bird of Calgary and Katarina Roxon of St. John’s N.L. All three delivered strong performances at the recent Commonwealth Games in Glasgow which integrates some events for athletes with a disability.
The competition also marks the return of Adam Purdy of London, Ont., to the national team after a seven-year absence. Purdy competed at the three Paralympic Games between 1996 and 2004 and won two gold medals. 2012 Paralympic medallist Nathan Stein of Surrey, B.C., is also back after injury.
The Canadian team features a youth movement with seven swimmers making their international debut. They are Alec Elliot, 18, of Waterloo, Ont., Cameron MacDonald, 22, of Winnipeg, Nathan Clement, 19, of West Vancouver, Samantha Ryan, 15, of Saskatoon, Tess Routliffe, 15, of Caledon Ont., Tyler Mrak, 16, of Aldergrove, B.C., and Zach Zona, 15, of Waterford, Ont.
Major retirements over the last year include multiple Paralympic champion Valérie Grand’Maison of Montreal and Donovan Tildesley of Vancouver.
‘’The transition with our newcomers has gone very smoothly,’’ said McCord. ‘’They’ve shown a lot of maturity and professionalism. We had a very successful staging camp in Richmond (B.C.) and everyone responded well to the different mix.’’
Since the last Para Pan Pacs in 2011, Canada has maintained its status among the world powers in the sport. The Para-swimming team won 16 medals at both the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and at the 2013 IPC World Championships in Montreal.
This year’s Para Pan Pacs has some major incentives for the Canadian team. It includes pre-selection to the IPC World Championships and Parapan American Games in Toronto in 2015.
The preliminaries are at 9: 30 a.m. and finals at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific) each day.
Full team list https://www.swimming.ca/2014ParaPanPacificChampionships