Aurlie Rivards gold highlights big night for Canada


PASADENA, Calif. – Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., capped a solid opening night for Canadian Para-swimmers with the gold medal in her 50-m freestyle race Wednesday at the Para Pan Pacific Championships.

Canada ended the evening with one gold, four silver and six bronze while four Canadian records were broken.

In the women’s 50-m freestyle in the S10 category, Rivard clocked a personal best 28.34 seconds.

Katherine Downie of Australia was second in 29.33 and Anna Eames of the U.S. third in 29.71. Samantha Ryan of Saskatoon was seventh.

‘’I’m more of a 400-m swimmer so it was important for me to a get off the blocks a lot faster than usual,’’ said Rivard, 18, a five-time medallist at the world championships last year. ‘’Seeing that kind of improvement in the first race gives me a lot of confidence.’’

Also in the 50-m freestyle: Morgan Bird of Calgary and Justine Morrier of St-Jean-Richelieu, Que., each added a silver in the S8 and S14 categories; Brianna Nelson of Victoria broke her Canadian record in the S7 clocking 33.91 for the bronze medal with Sarah Mehain of Vernon, B.C., and Tess Routliffe of Caledon Ont., fourth and fifth. Danielle Kisser of Delta, B.C., lowered the national mark in the S7 for sixth spot.

Canada collected four more medals in the men’s 400-m freestyle. Devin Gotell of Antigonish, N.S., and Nicolas-Guy Turbide of Quebec City took silver and bronze in the S13 while Alec Elliot of Waterloo, Ont., won silver in the S10 with Isaac Bouckley of Oshawa, Ont., fourth. Christian Daniel of Calgary was third in the S6.

In the women’s 100-m butterfly, Ryan and Rhea Schmidt of Winnipeg both placed third in the S10 and S13 categories. Ryan, 15, is one of seven Para-swimmers on the Canadian team making their international debut.

‘’I never expected this at all,’’ said Ryan who clocked a personal best 1:14.48. ‘’I was pretty nervous about the race. It was important for me to stay focused on my plan and swim for myself.’’

Schmidt was pleased to see a medal performance after a tough 2013 season.

‘’I’ve been more consistent with my training this year,’’ said Schmidt. ‘’Last year there was also stress with school and some health issues. A result like tonight can really set the tone for the rest of the meet.’’

Jean-Michel Lavalliere of Quebec City added a bronze in the men’s S7 50-m butterfly with Danial Miurphy of Bedford, N.S. fifth. Murphy also broke his Canadian record in the 50-m butterfly in the prelims clocking 48.62.

Canada’s other Canadian record on the day was set by Adam Purdy of London, Ont. Purdy clocked 38.36 in the S6 50-m butterfly for fourth place. The 33-year-old is back on the national team after a seven-year retirement.

‘’It’s nice when you can start a competition like this with a Canadian record, especially in my situation’’ said Purdy, who held the previous mark at 39.13 set at the 2000 Paralympic Games. ‘’I now do my butterfly with one arm rather than two and I feel I can go a lot faster. And my underwater work has really paid off as well.

Competition continues through to Sunday. The preliminaries are at 9: 30 a.m. and finals at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific) each day.

Results available on Meet Mobile app.

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