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Canada has already matched its victory count from 2022

MANCHESTER, England – Danielle Dorris of Moncton, N.B. won Canada’s 10th medal in grand style on Thursday at the 2023 Para Swimming World Championships with a victory in the women’s S7 100-metre backstroke.

The 20-year-old Dorris, born with only a portion of her arms, produced a giant opening length and prevailed in 1:22.02. Julia Gaffney of the U.S. made a late charge to the finish and took the silver in 1:22.26. Veronika Korzhova of Ukraine was third in 1:23.52.

It was the second podium of the week for Dorris. She took bronze in the SM7 200 individual medley on Monday.

“That whole thing was so much fun,” said Dorris about her win. “That first 50 felt amazing, the second 50 started to hurt and I could see everybody trying to catch up. But I’m just telling myself ‘no, I got it, I just need to held on just a little bit longer’. That was my whole thought near the end.”

Dorris won the gold in the 50 butterfly and silver in the 100 back at both the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021 and last year’s world championships in Portugal.

“The gold in the 100 back wasn’t necessarily the goal here,” she said. “I just wanted to do the best that I could, maybe a second but getting the gold I feel very happy, that’s the first time that’s happened in that event.”

At both the start and the turn, Dorris’s underwater kick was impeccable.

“We’ve been working on my underwater kick all year and being able to utilize it as my go-to; I’m very proud and that was the result I got,” she said. ‘’Off the wall, the challenge is to hold my breath and go as long as I can and try to do the same off the turn which I did tonight.”

Canada now has six gold, two silver and two bronze after four of seven days of competition. The six gold match its victory count from the 2022 worlds where it won 18 medals.

In the women’s S3 50-m backstroke final, Ellie Challis of Great Britain won the race in 54.90 with Edenia Nogueira Garcia of Brazil in second in 1:01.38, and her compatriot Susana Schnarndorf third in 1:01.81.

Canadian record holder Nikita Ens of Meadow Lake, Sask. was sixth in 1:14.53 and Aly Van Wyck-Smart of Toronto eighth in 1:16.13.

Ens, 34, is Canada’s busiest swimmer at the meet with six individual events.

“It started off pretty good and it’s nice to have the competitors right beside you to push you on,” said Ens, a 2020 Paralympian. “I was pretty happy with how I got out and then my push to the finish.”

Van Wyck-Smart, 20, is already at her third worlds.

“It was an alright swim,” she said. “Every time I can race a final it adds to my experience and I’m kind of getting used to it now.”

Canada’s head coach Mike Thompson is pleased with how all the performances this week are motivating and uniting the team.

“Nikita and Aly both had strong races to open the night,” he said. “Danielle Dorris kept us on our toes with a crazy finish. Her start and turn definitely put her in a position to win that race. What a swim.

“This isn’t about individual triumphs but about the triumph of unity, the triumph of a team. We are diving into the water as swimmers, but we are emerging as more than champions – we are emerging as a strong team. And that, to me, is the greatest victory.”

In the preliminaries, Clémence Paré of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que. improved her personal best by four seconds clocking four minutes and 41.14 seconds in the women’s SM5 200 individual medley for 10th place. Jessica Tinney of Toronto was 12th.

“It’s a great way to start a competition,” said Paré, 20, about her PB. “It showed all the work I’ve put into the race in training and that I’m getting better. I’m very satisfied.”

Philippe Vachon of Blainville, Que. ranked 11th in the men’s S8 100 freestyle as did two-time Paralympic medallist Katarina Roxon of Kippens, N.L. in the women’s SM9 100 freestyle.

“I’m still having fun and always learning,” said Roxon, 30, a four-time Paralympian at her eighth worlds. “Being on this team is so good. On day one everyone was so hyped up by our success and that’s definitely set the tone.”

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.