Canadian Paralympic Committee

April 25, 2024

Paralympian Shelby Newkirk of Saskatoon and national team newcomer Sebastian Massabie of Surrey, B.C., each set a world record to highlight a strong Canadian showing at the fourth leg of the 2024 Citi World Para Swimming World Series in Indianapolis.

Shelby Newkirk competes in the women's 100m backstroke // Shelby Newkirk participe au 100 m dos féminin.

By Swimming Canada

In addition to those world marks, the 16-athlete Canadian contingent lowered two more national standards in the capital of Indiana, while also tallying five senior medals (one gold, two silver, two bronze) and eight podium finishes in the youth category (4-1-3).

The reigning two-time world champion in the women’s 100-m backstroke S6, Shelby Newkirk clocked 37.40 seconds Saturday morning in the preliminaries of the 50 back to shatter the previous S6 world record of 38.17 set in 2016 by China’s Song Lingling.

Despite dominating the prelims, Newkirk didn’t qualify for the 50 back multi-class final as that event is not part of the Paris 2024 Paralympic program in her sport class. She did, however, claim multi-class gold in the 100 back later on Saturday, as well as bronze in the 50 free on Friday.

“I’m so excited about how my morning swim went. It was definitely a goal for this meet to go for that record,” said the 27-year old from the Saskatoon Lasers Swim Club, who still holds the 50 back world standard of 38.00 in her previous class, S7.

“I know that I’ve done it before and to be able to get an all-time personal best at event like this was huge, especially getting to be surrounded by current team members and the next generation. I think it’s a really cool bonding experience to get to share this moment together and to get to celebrate each other’s achievements.”

Sebastian Massabie, an S4 athlete from the Pacific Sea Wolves Swim Club, entered the World Para Swimming record books on Friday, also in the preliminaries, thanks to a time of 39.51 in the men’s 50 butterfly.

Slovenia’s Darko Duric held the previous world mark of 40.48 since the London 2012 Games.

Massabie went on to capture silver in Friday evening’s multi-class final in 39.85. He also claimed bronze on opening night, Thursday, in the 100 freestyle.

“I’m glad I got a world record and I believe it’s a necessary step for my Paralympic journey,” said the 19-year-old, who was competing in his first international meet since obtaining his international classification last December at the Ken Demchuk International Invitational in Surrey. “I felt great about breaking that world record.”

Also capturing a senior multi-class medal in Indy was Saskatoon’s S5 swimmer Hannah Ouellette, who placed second in the women’s 50 back.

Newkirk and Massabie, along with Riley Martin of Peachland, B.C., and Myriam Soliman of Saint-Hubert, Que., were also part of the 4×50 free 20-point relay that established a Canadian record of 3.00.44 on Thursday.

Meanwhile, in the youth category, Mary Jibb of Bracebridge, Ont., was sensational with a trio of multi-class triumphs, in the women’s 50 free, 200 individual medley and 100 back, as well as bronze in the 100 breaststroke.

On Friday morning, in the prelims of the 50 fly, the 17-year-old from the Muskoka Aquatic Club also set an S9 national record with a time of 32.71, bettering the previous mark of 32.98 owned since 2008 by Canadian legend Stephanie Dixon.

Like Newkirk in the 50 back, Jibb did not qualify for the evening final in that event as it was reserved for S1-S7 athletes.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to swim at my first international event and I’m very pleased with my results,” said Jibb, one of three Canadians who took part in a classification process prior to the three days of racing.

Canada’s other youth gold medal came from Ali Deihl, a 15-year-old S9 swimmer from Prince Albert, Sask., in the women’s 100 breast.

Janet Dunn, Swimming Canada’s Para Swimming Performance Pathway Coach & National Classification Lead, was pleased with the delegation’s overall showing.

“This was one of the best World Para Swimming Series events we’ve been to, certainly post COVID,” said Dunn, the contingent’s team leader and head classification advocate in Indy. “With 200 swimmers from 17 nations attending, we managed to set two world records, Canadian records, multiple personal bests, and achieved several minimum qualifying standards at this event.”

Seven of the season’s nine Citi World Para Swimming World Series events take place between February and June, before the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games (Aug. 28-Sept. 8). The campaign will then wrap up in November and December with the last two competitions of the calendar.

The Series resumes next month in Singapore.

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