Duchesne wins bronze on day 2 of Para Swimming World Championships
MANCHESTER, England – Sabrina Duchesne of St-Augustin, Que. earned her first major individual international medal on Tuesday with bronze in the women’s S7 400-metre freestyle at the Manchester 2023 Para Swimming World Championships.
The podium performance brings Canada’s medal haul to six (four gold and two bronze) after two days of the seven-day competition. The Canadians produced a spectacular start on Monday, winning four races.
Duchesne continued her impressive international progression clocking 5:31.17. She was fourth in the event at last year’s worlds and fifth at the Tokyo Paralympic Games in 2021.
The Americans were 1-2 with Morgan Stickney breaking an 11-year-old world record finishing in 4:54.28 followed by Ahalya Lettenberger second in 5:22.27.
“It was a good race,” said Duchesne, 22, a member of Canada’s women’s 4×100 freestyle relay that won bronze at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. “It’s a big achievement for me to get my first medal at the world championships and I’m especially pleased to get it in my best event.”
Shelby Newkirk of Saskatoon, the 100 backstroke winner Monday, added a fifth-place finish in the women’s S6 100 freestyle in 1:16.71.
Yuyan Jiang of China broke the world record for gold in 1:10.86 with Anna Hontar of Ukraine second in 1:13.48, and Nora Meister of Switzerland third in 1:14.45.
“My swim was definitely better than this morning which I’m really happy about,” said Newkirk, 27. “I think this is a good stepping block to lead off of going into a Paralympic year and while it wasn’t the placing that I wanted it’s getting a whole lot closer than it was in Tokyo.”
Aly Van Wyck-Smart of Toronto provided more good news for Canada as she smashed her personal best by six seconds, clocking 4:27.86 for sixth place in the women’s SM3 150 individual medley. Nikita Ens of Meadow Lake, Sask. took eighth spot in 4:32.36.
“It feels amazing,” said Van Wyck-Smart, 20, also sixth at last year’s worlds. “It was great to have my teammate beside me and she gave me a great race. I’m not sure what areas I gained that time, but I know it felt good.”
Ens was also pleased with her showing.
“It was good,” said the 2020 Paralympian. “I started out strong with the backstroke. It was important to focus on the longer distance by keeping the same intensity.”
Tanja Scholz of Germany was the winner with Marta Infante Fernandez of Spain second and Ellie Challis of Great Britain third.
Two-time Paralympian Alexander Elliot of Kitchener, Ont. added a seventh place in the men’s SM10 200 IM in 2:20.53.
Canada’s head coach Mike Thompson feels the Canadian Para swimmers on Tuesday built off Monday’s success.
“Every stroke in the water, every kick, and every breath, builds our momentum,” he said. “We’re not just a team, we’re a wave in motion, growing stronger with each race. And nothing stops a wave once it starts rolling.
“I’ve been talking to the team about identifying opportunities and capitalizing on them. Sabrina’s medal was one of those opportunities tonight and she did not shy away. Great swims from Nikki, Aly, Alexander, and Shelby as well.
“We are on a roll.”
In the preliminaries, Angela Marina of Cambridge, Ont. was ninth in the S14 100 backstroke, Katie Cosgriffe of Oakville, Ont. 10th in the 200 individual medley, and Katarina Roxon of Kippens, N.L. 13th in the SM9 200 IM.
For the men, Nicholas Bennett of Parkville, B.C. was 12th in the S14 100 backstroke.
Viewers can catch the 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.