“I am very excited to be able to race at home in a World Championship. This special opportunity is unique in a life of an athlete, as friends and family will be there cheering for Canada.”
With the 2013 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Swimming World Championships less than 100 days away, Swimming Canada has announced their team that will compete in Montreal.
Montreal 2013 will be the first ever para-swimming world championship on North American soil, and the Canadian team will feature a strong contingent of competitors from the Montreal area. Benoit Huot of Longueuil and Valerie Grand’Maison of Montreal are among the standouts on the 26-member team, which will compete from 12-18 August at Parc Jean-Drapeau Aquatic Complex.
Four-time Paralympian Huot was Canada’s flag bearer for the London 2012 closing ceremonies after increasing his career Paralympic medal total to 19, to go along with 28 world championships. Despite all his success in the pool, Huot lists carrying the flag as his proudest moment, and expects that same feeling when he represents his country on home soil.
“I am very excited to be able to race at home in a World Championship. This special opportunity is unique in a life of an athlete, as friends and family will be there cheering for Canada,” Huot said. “What I am the most proud of about this summer is the fact that Canadians and people from Quebec will have a better understanding of what para-swimming is all about. This competition will increase the awareness of our movement and will inspire the next generation of swimmers.”
Grand’Maison, meanwhile, continued to write her name in the record books at the Paralympics with a world record and gold medal in the 200m S13 individual medley. The holder of nine Paralympic medals, 13 world championships medals and six world records is excited to continue the momentum into 2013.
“My performances from last summer in London made me really confident about my training program with Peter Carpenter,” Grand’Maison said. “I know what to do to swim fast, I know how to focus and train well, and I have the experience to race hard. It's an absolutely amazing opportunity for me to race at home, in the same pool that I train at every summer, and it's going to provide great visibility to Paralympic swimming in the region. It's been a tough year coming back from London, now I just want to have fun and enjoy racing in front of my friends and family.”
Other Montreal-area athletes making up the squad include Valerie Drapeau of Longueuil, and Justine Morrier, Aurelie Rivard and Maxime Rousselle of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
Athletes were selected based on their performances at last month’s Can-Am Para-swimming Championships in Minneapolis. Canadians established 32 new national marks, led by Danielle Kisser of Delta, B.C., with five.
“Being able to compete on home soil is an honour and a privilege. We have a great mix of veteran and first-time swimmers and coaches and it bodes well for Canada at the start of this new Paralympic quadrennial,” said Para-swimming National Coach Craig McCord, a member of the IPC Coaches’ Advisory Group. “It will be a benchmark to see where we stand against the world one year post London 2012 and how we are positioned on the road to the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. It will also give the athletes a taste of what it will be like two years from now when they walk into the stadium to compete at Parapan Am Games in Toronto. I have full confidence that our swimmers will be ready to go when we start rolling on Aug. 12.”
Preparations are well underway for the seven-day international competition, at which around 650 of the world’s best swimmers with disabilities from 60 countries are expected to compete.
Great Britain recently announced a 32-strong team for Montreal that will include four-time Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds and 12-time Paralympic medallist Sascha Kindred. In Montreal Simmonds will face her arch-rival Victoria Arlen, part of the 25-member Team USA. In London the two went head-to-head in three finals with the American finishing ahead of her British nemesis on two occasions.
Other big names expected to compete in Montreal include Brazil’s Daniel Dias, a winner of six gold medals all in world record times at London 2012, USA’s 12-time Paralympic champion Jessica Long and the Australian duo of Matthew Cowdrey and Jacqueline Freney who, between them, amassed 12 gold medals in London last summer.
The last IPC Swimming World Championships took place in August 2010 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands and consisted of 181 different medal events. With 58 medals in total, including 21 golds, Ukraine topped the medals table ahead of USA and Russia.
For more information about the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships, please visit www.ipcswimmingworlds2013.org