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TOKYO – The Canadian swimming team came oh-so-close to claiming its third medal of the Paralympic Games on Thursday, Danielle Dorris and Camille Bérubé both finishing hundredths of a second off the women’s 200-m individual medley SM7 podium at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.   
 
Dorris, one of the youngest Canadian athletes competing in the Japanese capital at 18 years of age, got off to a strong start in the butterfly portion and was second at the first turn behind world record holder Mallory Weggeman of the United States, who went on to win gold by over seven seconds.  
 
The Moncton, N.B., native was still in second place with a few metres to go in the race but just couldn’t hold off the USA’s Ahalya Lettenberger and Australia’s Tifanny Thomas Kane. 
 
In the end, Weggeman touched the wall in two minutes, 55.48 seconds, followed by Lettenberger (3:02.82), Thomas Kane (3:03.11) and Dorris (3:03.16).   
 
For her part, Bérubé was fifth at every turn but a 41.16 freestyle leg, the third best in the race, put her back in contention in the final stretch. The 26-year-old finished in 3:03.91.     
 
Bérubé and Dorris, who were both competing in their first career Paralympic Games individual final, had placed third (3:06.64) and fourth (3:07.53), respectively, in the morning heats. 
 
“I really enjoyed that. It was a lot better than the morning. I swam it a lot better, which was my plan. I’m very, very happy with it,” said Dorris, a two-time Paralympian from Club de natation Bleu et Or.  
 
“I’m looking forward to my next final, the 100 backstroke on Monday, which is a straight final. I’m really excited for that.” 
 
Bérubé, a three-time Paralympian who trains at Natation Gatineau, had placed 11th in the 200 IM in her Paralympic debut in 2012. 
 
“This was my first Paralympic final ever so it was very exciting. I just wanted to have fun, swim fast. Having another Canadian in the final, it was pretty cool to be able to race each other. I couldn’t have hoped for anything better today. 
 
“This is the fastest time that I’ve gone in probably five years, my best time in this sport class, so I’m definitely thrilled about that. It’s a great start to the rest of the week. I have the 100 breaststroke bright and early tomorrow morning, and I’m pretty excited for the 100 backstroke happening on Day 6.” 
 
Two other Canadians were in action in the evening session, both placing sixth in 200-m freestyle S14 events in their first career Paralympic final. 
 
On the men’s side, 17-year-old Nicholas Bennett of Parksville, B.C., was eighth at the 150-metre turn but came home in 29.17 seconds to touch the wall in a Canadian record time of 1:56.52, lowering his own national mark of 1:58.40 set at the 2019 Canadian championships.  
 
Ranked eighth in the morning heats, the youngest Canadian athlete in Tokyo ended up less than one second off the podium. His last 50 metres was faster than the 29.22 posted by reigning world champion Reece Dunn of Great Britain, who won the race in a world record time of 1:52.40.  
 
Brazil’s Gabriel Bandeira (1:52.74), who also went under the previous world standard, and Viacheslav Emeliantsev (1:55.58) of the Russian Paralympic Committee rounded out the podium. 
 
“My race was a lot better than this morning. I went out a little bit too quick this morning. I fixed that this evening. Just a second off from being third,” said Bennett, who trains at the High Performance Centre – Quebec in Montreal. “In the next couple of years I’ll be able to compete more.”  
 
In the women’s final, Angela Marina of Cambridge, Ont., maintained her sixth position from the preliminaries and clocked 2:15.43, just 27 hundredths of a second off her own national record. 
 
The 22-year-old, who became the first Canadian woman to qualify for a Paralympic S14 final, was eighth at the first turn but made up ground the rest of the way to overtake two rivals.  
 
Reigning world champion Valeriia Shabalina of the RPC led at every turn to win gold (2:03.71) ahead of British teammates Bethany Firth (2:03.99), the world record holder, and Jessica-Jane Applegate (2:09.53). 
 
“I think my race was pretty good. I was hoping to go a little bit faster but it’s my first 200 free final in almost two years so I’m pretty happy with it,” said Marina, from the Brantford Aquatic Club. “My next race is the 100 breaststroke (on Sunday). It will be my first 100 breaststroke in a while so I’m excited for that.”   
 
In other Canadian action on Day 3, Matthew Cabraja of Brampton, Ont., just missed the final of the men’s 50-m freestyle S11. 
 
The 19-year-old from Cobra Swim Club, also a first-time Paralympian, was ninth in the morning heats in 28.13, six hundredths of a second behind Portugal’s Marco Meneses.  
 
Wayne Lomas, Swimming Canada’s Associate High Performance Director and National Para Swimming Coach, was delighted with the team’s performance on Day 3. 
 
“Four finals from five swims, and our near miss was ninth, it certainly was a very exciting day with results that augur well for our future. I was just excited to see our swimmers move into the finals, and then improve again tonight. All four took on the best in the world, showed composure and executed their race plans, and for Danielle, Nicholas and Camille, their reward was a personal best for their respective event in their sport class. Add to that Angela’s second fastest time ever in her first Paralympic Games final and Matthew’s solid performance in the 50-m sprint after swimming in the final of the 400 last night, and we witnessed a very pleasing day.  
 
“I want to particularly recognize the outstanding coaching of our Paralympic team coaches Ryan Allen and Mike Thompson, who, along with Camille’s home coach Craig McCord and Angela’s home coach Paul Armstrong, prepared each of today’s finalists for peak performance so professionally.” 
 
Full schedule and results: 
https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/paralympic-games/en/results/swimming/paralympic-schedule-and-results-date=2021-08-27.htm  
 
 
Photos courtoisie du Comité paralympique canadien (à des fins éditoriales uniquement) : https://cdnparalympics.photoshelter.com/gallery-collection/Tokyo-2020/C0000_JK7r6z31OA

Nathan White ネイサン・ホワイト
Senior manager, Communications, Swimming Canada
Gestionnaire supérieur des communications, Natation Canada
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