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MADEIRA, Portugal – The Canadian Para swimming team put an exclamation point on remarkable world championships on Saturday, adding an impressive four medals on the seventh and final day of competition at the Penteada Olympic Swimming Complex. 

Canada concludes Madeira 2022 with 18 podium finishes (6-5-8), five more than at London 2019. It marks the country’s best tally at Worlds since a 21-medal haul in 2010 in Eindhoven, Netherlands. 

Over the course of the meet, the 30-athlete Canadian contingent also set three championship records, 14 national marks and 22 personal best times.

“I think the stats are very good but what I would rather talk about is how this team has progressed over the past seven years since I’ve been with Swimming Canada,” said senior team coach Mike Thompson. “We started out with basically one gold medallist, one champion, and we were kind of striving for medals, it was kind of our hope. That’s developed over time where people appreciate the process, appreciate being part of a team, the people around them. 

“This said, I’m exceptionally happy with the results. We’re on to something here and I’m very confident that we’re going to see more and more of this as the years go by.”

Thompson, head coach of the High Performance Centre-Quebec in Montreal, is already looking forward to next year’s world championships in Manchester, United Kingdom.

“A lot of these guys will go back and start training again, and next year we start counting towards the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris. We can’t rest on these laurels. We have to continue to push, continue to get better. The first step is going to be trying to increase the team size that we’re bringing to Paris, and if we’re able to do that, we’re going to be in real good shape in 2024 and 2028.”

Canadians who reached the podium on Day 7 included Nikita Ens of Meadow Lake, Sask., who claimed silver in the women’s 200-m freestyle S3, as well as third-place finishers Katarina Roxon of Kippens, N.L., in the women’s 100 breaststroke SB8, Aurélie Rivard of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., in the women’s 100 backstroke S10, and Alec Elliot of Kitchener, Ont., in the men’s 100 back S10.

Ens kicked off the productive day in the morning when she was the second fastest S3 swimmer in the combined S4-S3 preliminaries of the women’s 200 free, which also served as the S3 final.

The Tokyo Paralympian finished the race in four minutes 51.75 seconds to reach the world championship podium for the first time in her second career appearance at the event. American Leanne Smith won gold, while Brazil’s Larissa Rodrigues merited bronze.

Ens also competed in the 100 free S3 final in the evening, taking sixth place in 2:27.89, just 89 hundredths from the Canadian standard.

“It feels pretty awesome. I’m so proud to represent Canada and bring home a medal,” Ens said. “My 200 free went really well. It’s kind of nice to settle into a rhythm and just kind of push on that stroke.”

In the women’s 100 breast SB8, Roxon clocked 1:22.92 to trail only 13-year-old sensation Anastasiya Dmytriv of Spain (1:21.40) and reigning Paralympic champion Ellen Keane of Ireland at the wall. 

Roxon was thrilled to return to the podium in her favourite event after finishing fourth in Tokyo. Over her decorated career, the 29-year-old has claimed Paralympic gold in the 100 breast SB8 at Rio 2016 and silver at the London 2019 Worlds.

“It feels really good. Mentally, physically, emotionally, I needed a break after Tokyo,” said Roxon, a four-time Paralympian and six-time world championship participant. “I’m glad I’m back. I love the sport. I’m happy to be back at Worlds and to be part of this team, with so many new faces. This sets me up really well for next year’s Worlds.”

Later in the evening, Roxon turned back the clock once more when she set a Canadian record of 30.38 in the 50 free S9 to finish in sixth position. 

“(Coach) Michel (Bérubé) and I were talking before the race. We were thinking ‘You know what, last race of the meet, let’s go make some magic.’ I had so much fun with this one. No nerves, just do your best, Katarina. I’m so happy.”

In the women’s 100 back S10, Rivard touched the wall in 1:10.24 behind Tokyo gold medallist Bianka Pap of Hungary (1:08.84) and France’s Anaëlle Roulet (1:09.83).

Arianna Hunsicker, an 18-year-old Worlds rookie from Surrey, B.C., was eighth in 1:16.16.

Rivard had previously captured 100 back bronze at London 2019 before improving to silver last summer in Tokyo. 

Thanks to her podium finish on Saturday, the 25-year-old upped her remarkable career total to 17 medals (6-6-5) across five world championship appearances, including triumphs earlier this week in the 50 and 100 free S10.

“I am happy to be back on the podium. I knew it was going to be a tight race. The first five or six girls are really all of equal caliber,” said Rivard.

The Canadian superstar was fifth at the turn but just as she did on Friday on her way to winning the 100 free, she turned it up a notch on the way back. 

“That’s really my strength as a swimmer. The second half is always my best. That’s the advantage I have. That’s why I’m not stressed regardless of my position at the turn.”

In the men’s 100 back S10, Elliot surprised himself in an event he didn’t swim in Tokyo or London to finish in 1:02.44 behind Italian teammates Stefano Raimondi (59.68), the reigning Paralympic silver medallist, and Riccardo Menciotti (1:00.68).

It was Elliot’s second bronze medal of the week after his third-place finish in 400 free on Tuesday.

“I’m very surprised. I haven’t swum the 100 back in a couple of years,” said the two-time Paralympian, who was taking part in his sixth individual final in Madeira. “I swam it at Trials and it went really well. So I thought why not swim it here, it’s on the last day, last event, why not give it a shot.

“I’m really happy with the result. It might be a new addition to my program.” 

Canadians competed in four other finals on closing night.

Two-time Paralympian Sabrina Duchesne of Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Que., placed sixth in the women’s 100 freestyle S7 in 1:15.61 to match her result from Tokyo in the event.

Worlds debutant Jessica Tinney of Scarborough, Ont., also posted a sixth-place finish, clocking 1:44.03 in the women’s 100 free S5.

Tokyo Paralympian Matthew Cabraja of Brampton, Ont., was eighth in the men’s 400 freestyle S11 in 5:29.79.

Finally, Félix Cowan of Brossard, Que., and Shelby Newkirk of Saskatoon teamed up with Elliot and Rivard to place fifth in the mixed 4×100 free 34 points relay in 4:11.82, a new national mark.

Four other Canadians swam in the preliminaries on Saturday.

Toronto’s Aly Van Wyck-Smart placed 10th in the women’s 100 free S3 (2:51.84) and 12th in the 200 free combined S4-S3 (5:36.42), ranking fifth among S3 competitors. 

Nicholas Bennett of Parksville, B.C., was 10th in the men’s 100 butterfly S14 (59.45), while in the women’s 100 fly S14, Emma Grace Van Dyk of Port Colborne, Ont. (1:13.32) and Justine Morrier of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (1:14.82) finished 12th and 13th, respectively. 

The 2023 World Para Swimming Championships in Manchester will take place from July 31 to August 6.

Madeira 2022 results:https://www.paralympic.org/madeira-2022/schedule-results

MADEIRA 2022 BY THE NUMBERS

GOLD MEDALLISTS (6)
Danielle Dorris: women’s 50 butterfly S7
Shelby Newkirk: women’s 100 backstroke S6
Aurélie Rivard: women’s 50 freestyle S10
Aurélie Rivard: women’s 100 freestyle S10
Tess Routliffe: women’s 100 breaststroke SB7
Nicolas-Guy Turbide: men’s 100 backstroke S13

SILVER MEDALLISTS (5)
Nicholas Bennett: men’s 200 freestyle S14
Nicholas Bennett: men’s 200 individual medley S14
Danielle Dorris: women’s 100 backstroke S7
Nikita Ens: women’s 200 freestyle S3
Tess Routliffe: women’s 200 individual medley SM7

BRONZE MEDALLISTS (7)
Camille Bérubé: women’s 200 individual medley SM7
Alec Elliot: men’s 400 freestyle S10
Alec Elliot: men’s 100 backstroke S10
James Leroux: men’s 100 breaststroke SB9
Aurélie Rivard: women’s 100 backstroke S10
Tess Routliffe: women’s 50 butterfly S7
Katarina Roxon: Women’s 100 breaststroke SB8

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP RECORDS (3)
Danielle Dorris: women’s 50 butterfly S7 (34.01)
Shelby Newkirk: women’s 100 backstroke S6 (1:20.96)
Aurélie Rivard: women’s 100 freestyle S10 (59.43)

CANADIAN RECORDS (14) 
Nicholas Bennett: men’s 200 freestyle S14 (1:54.41)
Félix Cowan: men’s 50 freestyle S8 (27.63)
Nikita Ens: women’s 50 backstroke S3 (1:08.70)
Angela Marina: women’s 200 individual medley S14 (2:36.48) 
Shelby Newkirk: women’s 100 freestyle S6 (1:15.21)
Clémence Paré: women’s 200 individual medley SM5 (4:45.69)
Tess Routliffe: women’s 100 breaststroke SB7 (1:31.91)
Katarina Roxon: women’s 50 freestyle S9 (30.38)
Jordan Tucker: women’s 50 butterfly S5 (54.24) 

Mixed 4×50 medley relay 20 points (3:40.02)
(Shelby Newkirk, Jacob Brayshaw, Jordan Tucker, Félix Cowan) 
Mixed 4×100 freestyle relay S14 (3:58.43)
(Nicholas Bennett, Tyson MacDonald, Angela Marina, Emma Grace Van Dyk) 
Mixed 4×100 medley relay 34 points (4:43.92)
(Shelby Newkirk, James Leroux, Jagdev Gill, Katarina Roxon) 
Mixed 4×100 medley relay S14 (4:29.96)
(Tyson MacDonald, Nicholas Bennett, Angela Marina, Justine Morrier) 
Mixed 4×100 free relay 34 points (4.11.82)
(Félix Cowan, Shelby Newkirk, Alec Elliot, Aurélie Rivard)

PERSONAL BEST TIMES (22)
Nicholas Bennett: men’s 200 freestyle S14 (1:54.41)
Jacob Brayshaw: men’s 50 breaststroke SB2 (1:54.67)
Félix Cowan: men’s 50 freestyle S8 (27.63)
Félix Cowan: men’s 100 freestyle S8 (1:01.51)
Félix Cowan: men’s 100 backstroke S8 (1:12.16)
Félix Cowan: men’s 200 individual medley SM8 (2:41.20)
Arianna Hunsicker: women’s 100 freestyle S10 (1:04.29)
Shelby Newkirk: women’s 100 freestyle S6 (1:15.21)
Clémence Paré: women’s 50 freestyle S5 (52.07)
Clémence Paré: women’s 200 individual medley SM5 (4:45.69)
Katarina Roxon: women’s 50 freestyle S9 (30.38)
Tess Routliffe: women’s 100 breaststroke SB7 (1:31.91)
Tess Routliffe: women’s 50 butterfly S7 (35.40)
Jessica Tinney: women’s 50 freestyle S5 (46.92)
Jessica Tinney: women’s 100 breaststroke SB4 (2:30.83)
Jessica Tinney: women’s 200 individual medley SM5 (4:46.87)
Jordan Tucker: women’s 50 butterfly S5 (54.24)
Emma Grace Van Dyk: women’s 200 freestyle S14 (2:20.62)
Emma Grace Van Dyk: women’s 100 backstroke S14 (1:14.20)
Zach Zona: men’s 50 freestyle S8 (29.63)
Zach Zona: men’s 100 freestyle S8 (1:03.48)
Zach Zona: men’s 100 backstroke S8 (1:15.92)

Nathan White
Senior Manager, Communications, Swimming Canada
Gestionnaire supérieur des communications, Natation Canada
t. +1 613-260-1348 x2002 | m. +1 613-866-7946 | nwhite@swimming.c