By Jim Morris
RIO DE JANEIRO _ Benoit Huot plans to soak it all in Thursday night.
Huot will compete in possibly his final Paralympic race when he steps onto the starting block for the S10 400-metre freestyle at Rio 2016.
The veteran from Longueuil, Que., swam four minutes, 10.58 seconds for the fourth fastest time in the morning qualifying.
“It was a good swim,” said the 32-year-old who is competing in his fifth Paralympics. “Hopefully I will have a couple more gears tonight.
“It will be a good race. Maybe my last one.”
Aurelie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., will be looking to earn her fourth medal of the Paralympics in the women’s S10 400-m freestyle. She coasted to the top time in the qualifying in 4:40.86.
“None of the girls went hard, me included,” said Rivard, who is also scheduled to race in the 34-point, 4x100-m freestyle relay in the evening session. “It was just cruising. It was pretty easy.
“I wanted to qualify first without really trying. That’s what happened so I’m happy with it.”
Rivard won silver in the 400-m free at last summer’s IPC Swimming World Championships and at the 2012 London Paralympics when she was just 16.
Huot has won 19 Paralympic medals during his career, nine of them gold. He won the S10 400-free in Athens in 2004, was second in his first Paralympics in 2000 and again four years ago in London, and was third in 2008 in Beijing.
“What’s fun about it, it’s a four-minute race,” he said. “You have a lot of time to enjoy it, which is what I’m going to do.
“I’m going to enjoy . . . the whole process. This afternoon, tonight, the warmups. Everything I am going to try to enjoy.”
Maksym Krypak of Ukraine had the fastest qualifying time of 4:05.72.
If Huot wins a medal he will be tied with Michael Edgson of North Vancouver, B.C., who won 17 gold and three silver at the Paralympic Games from 1984 to 1992.
Tim McIsaac of Winnipeg leads all Canadian Para-swimmers with 28 medals.
Huot reached the final in his previous two races in Rio. He was fourth in the S10 200-m individual medley and fifth in the 100-m backstroke.
Rivard said it’s hard to imagine Huot not being part of the team.
“He’s been here since Day 1 with me,” said the 20-year-old who is competing in her second Paralympics. “He’s one of my best friends on the team.
“It’s hard to realize that people actually leave and have other stuff going on outside of swimming. He’s done so much.”
Canada has five medals _ three gold, two silver _ in the pool at Rio.
Rivard has collected two gold and a silver.
She won the S10 50-metre freestyle _ and set a world -record _ then won the 100-metre freestyle, setting a Paralympic Games record. She took silver on the 200-metre individual medley, setting a Canadian record.
Katarina Roxon won the S8 100-metre breaststroke Wednesday night while Tess Routliffe of Caledon, Ont., won silver and set a Canadian record in the SM7 200-m individual medley.
In other results Thursday morning:
_ Roxon, still fatigued from the busy night before, finished 16th in the S9 100-m butterfly in 1:16.93
_ Nydia Langill of Mississauga, Ont., was 12th in the SB6 100-m breaststroke in 1:55.13.
_ Isaac Bouckley of Port Hope, Ont., was 10th in the S10 400-m freestyle in 4:20.21 while Alec Elliot of Kitchener, Ont., was 11th in 4:22.51.