Australia won six gold medals on the opening day of the inaugural Para Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Edmonton, while the host country Canada also claimed three golds.
Kayla Clarke won Australia’s first gold medal of the meet in the women’s 200m Freestyle S14 in 2:21.19 dominating her competitors. Canada’s Kirstie Kasko finished second followed by Mexico’s Garcia Resendiz.
Clarke’s compatriot Ellie Cole won two gold medals in the Women’s S9 class, the first one in the 400m Freestyle in a time of 4:43.50 and then she went on to win the 50m in 30.72.
Canada’s Amber Thomas managed to copy Cole’s performance in the Women’s S11 class, winning the gold in the 50m and 400m Freestyle races.
Cole’s training partner Teigan Van Roosmalen won the 400m Freestyle S13 final in 5:02.64 for her first major international gold medal.
USA’s Jessica Long was too strong for Australia’s Jacqui Freney in the Women’s 400m Freestyle S8 winning the gold in 4:44.91, more than 20 seconds ahead of Freney.
Canada’s third gold medal of the day was won by Summer Mortimer in the women’s 50m Freestyle S10 in a time of 28.70.
Australia’s men did not want to leave all the glory to the women in their team and secured two gold medals themselves. Matt Levy was too strong in the 50m Butterfly S7 winning by half a body length in a time of 32.41.
Multiple Paralympic and world champion Matt Cowdrey finished first in the 100m Butterfly S9 in 1:00.55, just outside his personal best in the event with compatriot Brenden Hall winning silver in 1:02.57.
In the 100m Butterfly S10, Andre Brasil of Brazil won the gold medal clocking 57.17 seconds with Canada’s Benoit Huot, a three-time Paralympic champion, second in 59.04. Australia’s Andrew Pasterfield was third in a time of 59.29.
In the 100m Freestyle S12, South Africa’s Charl Bouwer was the winner in 59.50 with Tucker Dupree of the U.S., second in 1:00.00 and Canada’s Brian Hill third in 1:02.54.
With a total of 196 athletes participating, the Championships will continue until 14 August at the Kinsmen Sports Centre in Edmonton, Canada, and are a launch pad for many swimmers aiming to compete at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Countries who have sent athletes to Championships include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South African, Thailand and the United States.