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Swimming Canada – RIO DE JANEIRO – A golden performance in the pool has earned Aurelie Rivard the honour of being named the Canadian flagbearer for Sunday’s closing ceremonies of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.


Rivard, of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., won three gold and a silver medal during the Paralympics. She also set two world records, a Paralympic Games record and a Canadian record.


“It’s such an honour,” said Rivard, 20. “I would never have imagined myself carrying the flag at the Games when I started this.”


It’s the second time within a month a member of Swimming Canada has been chosen as a closing ceremony flagbearer.


Penny Oleksiak, the 16-year-old who excited a nation by winning four swimming medals, was the flagbearer for the Olympic Games closing ceremony.


Team Canada Chef de Mission Chantal Petitclerc announced Rivard as flagbearer, praising her performance.


Past Paralympic flagbearers include Petitclerc, a wheelchair racer, and swimmers Benoit Huot and Donovan Tildesley.


Huot won a bronze medal competing in his fifth Paralympics in Rio.


“So many legends have done it,” said Rivard, who was born missing her left hand. “All those amazing athletes.


“I don’t think I realize I’m part of history.”


John Atkinson, Swimming Canada’s director of high performance, praised Rivard’s selection as flagbearer.


“It’s really exciting for Swimming Canada to lead the nation at the end of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Atkinson. “Aurelie’s performance, her dedication and her drive, make her an ideal candidate to bring Canada home.”


Records were smashed almost every time Rivard touched the water.


She won Canada’s first gold of the Paralympics in the S10 50-metre freestyle in a world-record time of 27.37 seconds. Another world record crumbled when Rivard won the S10 400-metre freestyle in four minutes, 29.96 seconds. She also won the S10 100-metre freestyle in 59.31 seconds, setting a Paralympic Games record.


Her silver came in the gruelling S10 200-metre individual medley in a Canadian record 2:30.03 seconds. Rivard also was part of two relay teams that set Canadian records.


“I haven’t had time to really sit back and look at my medals and think about what I’ve done,” she said. “I’m going to realize it when I’m at home and look at the races on the internet. Then I will think it happened for real.”


Rivard has established herself as one of the world’s best Para-swimmers. As a wide-eyed 16-year-old at the 2012 London Paralympics she won silver in the 400-m freestyle.


At last summer’s IPC Swimming World Championships Rivard won gold in the 50-m freestyle and the 400-m freestyle. She was second in the 200-m individual medley and the 100-m freestyle.


Rivard was the star of the Parapan American Games in Toronto, winning a record seven medals, six of them gold, and setting a world record in the 100-m freestyle.


Rivard, who plans on taking some time off when she returns home, is still trying to comprehend what she has accomplished.


“We’ve been thinking about this meet for so, so long, four years,” she said. “It’s weird to think that now it’s done already.


“It’s going to take a long time to sink in.”