Aurélie Rivard wins gold in 100-m freestyle at Para swimming worlds
MANCHESTER, England – Aurélie Rivard continued her international dominance on Saturday with a victory in the women’s S10 100-metre freestyle at the Manchester 2023 Para Swimming World Championships.
The 27-year-old from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. clocked a season’s best 59.97 seconds for her third consecutive victory in the event at worlds. Maria Paula Barrera Zapata of Colombia was second in 1:00.98 and Bianka Pap of Hungary was third in 1:01.13.
“I’m very happy to successfully defend my world title for another year,” said Rivard, who also won the 50 freestyle on Monday. “The time is a little slower than I thought but again it’s the first time I’ve gone under a minute all season. I just take it as a step towards Paris [the 2024 Paralympic Games].”
Rivard, a 10-time Paralympic Games medallist, now has 19 career world championship medals. She is scheduled to race in the 100 backstroke on Sunday, the final day of the competition.
“The older I get, the more I realize what a challenge it is to stay in the sport,” said Rivard, born with an underdeveloped left hand. “I train really hard, I always try to add something different every season to stay there, it’s not easy but so far it’s been working.”
Arianna Hunsicker of Surrey, B.C. was eighth in 1:03.52.
Danielle Dorris of Moncton, N.B. collected her team-leading fourth medal with the silver in the women’s S7 50 freestyle. Sara Vargas Blanco of Colombia won the gold medal in 33.01 followed by Dorris in 33.99 and Sabine Weber-Treiber of Austria in third in 34.91.
“In my mind it went as well as I could hope for,” said Dorris, 20, also with gold in the 100 backstroke and 50 butterfly as well bronze in the 200 individual medley this week. “My start was much better than yesterday [in the 50 fly]. I was much quicker off the blocks. I’m very happy with that time.”
In the 50 free, Dorris relies on her fabulous butterfly stroke. She holds the world record (32.99) in the 50 fly set in a golden performance at the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021.
“My fly is a lot faster than my freestyle right now by a solid two seconds,” said Dorris, 20, born missing a portion of both arms. “Doing the fly is the only thing I can do if I want to be in those medal positions. I’m confident in my ability to go fast and keep up with the others doing freestyle.”
Canada is seventh in the medal standings at the 70-country competition with nine gold, four silver, and four bronze for 17 overall. Canada won 18 medals at last year’s worlds in Portugal which was its best performance since 21 podiums in 2010.
Nikita Ens of Meadow Lake, Sask., Canada’s busiest swimmer with six individual events, equaled her best result with fifth in the women’s S3 200 freestyle. She was fifth in the 50 breaststroke at the start of the week.
“I’m pretty excited to have moved up in the race,” she said. “I think the key was the warm-up. The coach gave me some good words and to focus on the lift and the technique. That all came together in the race.”
“It’s truly inspiring to witness the calibre of competition here at the World Championships,’’ said Canada’s head coach Mike Thompson. ‘’Our swimmers have once again shown tremendous resilience and heart, rising to the occasion and proving that the work we have done building this team was worth it. It’s not even about the medals, it’s about the relentless pursuit of excellence, pushing personal boundaries, and contributing to the story of this sport.”
In the preliminaries, Zach Zona of Waterford, Ont. missed the cut by one spot, ranking ninth in the men’s S8 200 individual medley.
In the women’s SM5 200 IM, Jessica Tinney of Toronto was 15th and Clémence Paré of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que. was 19th in 3:58.54 smashing her personal best by six seconds.
Viewers can catch all the Manchester 2023 Para Swimming World Championships action live as all heats and finals sessions will be livestreamed on the free CBC Gem streaming service, cbcsports.ca, and the CBC Sports App for iOS and Android devices.
Radio-Canada Sports is also airing the finals every day from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. ET on its app and at radio-canada.ca/sports.