TORONTO - The steady stream of trips to the podium by Canadian swimmers turned into a raging torrent Sunday night as Canada won 15 medals in the pool at the 2015 Toronto Parapan American Games.
Morgan Bird, of Calgary, won two gold medals, Nicolas Turbide, of Quebec City, won his second gold in as many nights and Canadians swept two events to finish the night with five gold, four silver and six bronze.
Turbide and Zack McAllister of Lethbridge, Alta., also set Americas records as Canada increased its count to 24 medals (six gold, nine silver, nine bronze), more than any other country competing at the meet.
Bird won the S8 400-meter freestyle in five minutes, 19. 33 seconds. About 90 minutes later she was back in the water and won the 50-m freestyle in 32 seconds. Both times were personal bests.
“I did not see that coming,” said Bird, 21, who has cerebral palsy. “It’s been a busy night for me.
“I followed both race plans well I think. I’m really happy with the results.”
Turbide led a sweep of the S12-S13 100-meter backstroke. He won the race for the visibility impaired in an America’s record time of 1:01.64. Devin Gotell, of Montreal, was second in 1:06.71 and Tyler Mrak of Aldergrove, B.C., was third in 1:11.18.
Turbide said sharing the podium with his teammates made the victory even more special.
“I couldn’t hope for anything better,” he said shouting over the noise from the loud, flag-waving crowd. “I’m pretty happy that my teammates made it on the podium as well.”
Turbide, 17, won gold in the 200-IM on Saturday night with Gotell, 24, taking the silver.
"The past two days were my biggest events,” he said. “Now we have fun and try to do our best in events we normally don't swim as much and try to make the podium as well."
The first sweep of the evening came in the S9 100-m breaststroke. James Leroux, of Repentigny, Que., won in 1:11.51, followed by Issac Bouckley, of Montreal, in 1:12.57 and Alec Elliot, of Kitchener, Ont., in 1:14.09.
“I feel very happy and excited because it’s at home,” said the 17-year-old Leroux. “It makes me feel very proud.”
Craig McCord, the national Para-swimming coach, said the entire team took advantage of the opportunities they were given.
“The doors were open and we walked through them,” said McCord. “That was the exciting part of it. We ceased every opportunity we were given.
“Morgan’s gold out of the gate was a great swim. The three boys’ sweep in the next event was the tipping point.”
Canada’s goal is to win between 80 and 85 medals during the swim meet.
Brazil has won 23 medals (10 gold, eight silver, five bronze) and Mexico 17 (seven gold, four silver, six bronze).
McAllister won the S8 50-meter freestyle in an America’s record time of 27.69 seconds. Chris Sergeant-Tsonos of Kingston, Ont., was third in 28.88 seconds.
McAllister hopes the super showing in the pool raises awareness of Para-swimming.
“I think it means we are going to get a little more recognition at a home Games,” said 21-year-old who has bone tumours which restrict the growth and range of motion of his arms and legs.
“I think it will spread the work about Para-sport. I think it’s a good thing for awareness. “
McAllister and Zach Zona had already made a podium appearance during the morning, finishing second and third in the S8 400-m freestyle.
McAllister grabbed the silver in a time of 4: 47.88 seconds. Zona, of Waterford, Ont., took bronze in a personal best time of 4:52.36.
The competition has attracted 228 athletes from 19 countries to the Parapan Am Aquatic Centre and Field House. For full results go to http://results.toronto2015.org/PRS/en/swimming/schedule-and-results.htm .
In other medal results:
Sabrina Duchesne, of Quebec City, won bronze in the S8 400-m freestyle in 5:26.47
Aurelie Rivard, of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., was second in the S9 100-m breaststroke in 1:21.90. Sarah Girard, of Montreal, was third in 1:24.15.
Katarina Roxon of[JM1] Kippens, NL, won silver in the S9 400-m freestyle in 5:06.72.
Canada’s 4x50-m 20-point mixed relay team of Tammy Cunnington, of Red Deer, Alta., Daniel Murphy, of Bedford, N.S., Adam Purdy of London, Ont., and Valerie Drapeau, of Longueuil, Que., finished third in 3:19.36.