Past Games show Parapan Ams important step for Canadian swimmers

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 14, 2023

Young squad looks to make its mark in Santiago


The Parapan American Games have shown to be an important step in the development of Canada’s top Para swimmers.

The 14-member 2023 Para swimming team has no Paralympic Games experience and only five have participated at a previous Parapan Am Games.

But a peek at the 2019 13-member squad shows the incredible improvement members of that team have made since those Games in Lima.

The biggest name from that 2019 group was S14 swimmer Nicholas Bennett of Parksville, B.C. In Lima at age 15 he sent notice to the world he was a star on the rise with three gold medals and a silver.

At the 2020 Paralympics, Bennett would reach three finals as the youngest swimmer on the squad at 17. He earned two silver at the 2022 world championships, then blew the doors off at the 2023 worlds with two gold and a silver.

Two others from the 2019 Lima team also went to Tokyo 2020: Angela Marina of Cambridge, Ont. and Aly Van Wyck-Smart of Toronto.

And if we go back to the 2015 Games in Toronto that 40-member group included the legendary Aurélie Rivard, world champion Tess Routliffe and Paralympic medallist Nicolas Turbide, all teenagers back then and still three of the strongest members on the national team today.

On the 2023 Santiago team, nine members already have world championships experience. Justine Morrier of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. is the most experienced athlete on the team with four worlds appearances.

Caleb Arndt of Newmarket, Ont., Hunter Helberg of Fort McMurray, Ont., Felix Cowan of Brossard, Que., Jagdev Gill of Brockville, Ont., Tyson MacDonald of Tillsonburg, Ont., Myriam Soliman of St-Hubert, Que., Jordan Tucker of Guelph, Ont., and Emma Van Dyck of Port Colborne, Ont. were all on the 2022 worlds team.

Several members hold Canadian records going into the Games including Helberg in the S12 50-100-200 backstroke, 800 freestyle and 50 butterfly. Rookie, Alisson Gobeil of Alma, Que., holds the marks in the S5 50 and 100 freestyle, 50 backstroke and 200 individual medley.

Canada collected 21 medals with its young squad at the 2019 Parapan Ams for sixth overall. It was first overall in 2007 but since then Brazil has topped the Para swimming standings with Mexico also in the top-three each of the last four Games.

Para swimming competition will race November 18-24 in Santiago.

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