Canada wins four gold to open Manchester 2023 Para Swimming World Championships

Canadian Paralympic Committee

July 31, 2023

Rivard, Routliffe, Newkirk, Bennett triumph!

Aurelie Rivard at the Para swimming worlds

Photos: Bruce White


MANCHESTER, England – Canada produced a sensational start on Monday at the Manchester 2023 Para Swimming World Championships with four gold medals and one bronze.


Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., Tess Routliffe of Caledon, Ont., Shelby Newkirk of Saskatoon and Nicholas Bennett of Parksville, B.C., all heard ‘O Canada’ played in their honour at the Manchester Aquatics Centre.


Those four victories are also worth team quota spots for Canada in each of those events for next year’s Paralympic Games.


Danielle Dorris of Moncton added a bronze, finishing third in Routliffe’s victory swim.


It was a first career world title for  Bennett while Rivard, Routliffe and Newkirk successfully defended their titles.


In the women’s S7 200-metre individual medley, Routliffe clocked a Canadian record 2:57.77, eclipsing her previous mark of 2:58.06 set at the 2019 worlds in London.


Julia Gaffney of the U.S. took the silver in 3:03.07 and Dorris followed for the bronze in 3:05.93.


‘’I’m really pleased with that race,’’ said Routliffe, 24. ‘’It’s a really good place to be in right now and my goals are big. The key tonight was my improvement in the backstroke.’’


Routliffe and Dorris were neck and neck for a chunk of the race before Routliffe pushed into another gear on the final length.


‘’On the last length all I could think was touch the wall. I couldn’t really see who was around me, I knew there were people near me and I just got to the finish.’’


For Dorris, 20, the performance augurs well for her stronger events later this week.


‘’To see Tess and I both make the podium, I feel ecstatic,’’ she said. ‘’For me it’s also going to set up the next few races. I’m quite excited about my start to this meet.’’


In the last race of the night, Rivard collected her 18th career world championship medal with her victory in 27.64 in the women’s S10 50 freestyle. It’s her third straight world gold in the event. 



Alessia Scortechini of Italy was second in 28.06 and Emeline Pierre of France third in 28.39.


‘’I was super happy to keep the momentum going for Canada tonight,’’ said the 27-year-old Rivard, with 10 career Paralympic medals. ‘’I had goosebumps watching my teammates win and I wanted to end the night on a high note.’’


Once on the starting blocks, Rivard says she is all business.


‘’I’m thinking a lot in the 30 seconds before the race,’’ she said. ‘’But once on the blocks I just told myself let’s go, I have a clear plan for the race and I wanted to follow it as best as possible and touch the wall first.’’


Newkirk, 27, took her second straight world crown in the women’s S6 100-m backstroke in a Canadian and championship record 1:20.62. 



Yuyan Jiang of China was second in 1:21.18 and Anna Hontar of Ukraine third in 1:22.34.


‘’It feels amazing,’’ said Newkirk, a 2020 Paralympian. ‘’I knew after the preliminaries it was going to be a battle, there are so many of us so close. I just knew I had to focus on myself, focus on my time to see what I can do.’’


Bennett, 19, was the most emotional of the Canadian victors as he continued his rise on the international scene, with the win in the S14 200 freestyle in 1:54.75. William Ellard of Great Britain was second in 1:54.79 and Jack Ireland of Australia third in 1:55.38.



‘’I held back the first 100 because I knew my top opponents go out hard,’’ said Bennett, last year’s silver medallist, while trying to hold back tears of joy. ‘’I was able to hold back and push myself forward to the end. This was the goal. I felt 10 times more ready than last year.’’


Philippe Vachon of Blainville, Que. and Zach Zona of Waterford, Ont. both had strong second halves to their races and placed fourth and sixth in the men’s S8 400 freestyle. They clocked 4:38.95 and 4:45.38.


‘’It’s very satisfying to execute the strategy that you put in place for a race,’’ said Vachon, fifth in the event at last year’s worlds. “I just closed my mind and told myself to focus on what I do in training.’’


Zona, a two-time world championship team member and a 2020 Paralympian, posted his season’s best time and fastest clocking since 2019.


‘’The 400 is always a tough one to begin with and I’m glad to get it done,’’ said Zona, also sixth in the event in 2022. ‘’Both Phil and I like the longer stuff more and try to come back rather than have the best sprints up front. But I showed with that time, I’m headed in the right direction.’’


James Leroux of Repentigny, Que. posted his fastest time in four years clocking 1:10.29 for fifth spot in the men’s SB9 100 breaststroke.


‘’The final result wasn’t what I wanted but I have to be happy with my time,’’ he said. ‘’Based on tonight we’ll start to work on more specific areas towards the Paralympic Games.’’


Two more Canadians were in the women’s SB2 50-m breaststroke final with Nikita Ens of Meadow Lake, Sask., fifth in 1:38.73 and Aly Van Wyck-Smart of Toronto seventh in 1:42.61.


Abi Tripp of Kingston, Ont., was eighth in the women’s, S8 400 freestyle in 5:29.99.


Other Canadian results in preliminaries Monday for the women: Arianna Hunsicker of Surrey, B.C. and Katie Cosgriffe of Oakville, Ont. were ninth and 12th in the S10 50 freestyle; Angela Marina of Cambridge, Ont. was 11th in the S14 200 freestyle; and Jessica Tinney of Toronto was 14th in the S5 50 freestyle.


For the men, Alexander Elliot of Kitchener, Ont. was 14th in the men’s S10 50 freestyle.


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