MADEIRA, Portugal (Swimming Canada)– Long-time national team standout Aurélie Rivard added to her sensational sporting resume on Friday night when she cruised to victory in the women’s 100-m freestyle S10 to capture her second title of the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships at the Penteada Olympic Swimming Complex.
The 26-year-old from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., who was crowned in the 50 free on opening night, now owns a remarkable 16 world championship podium finishes over her career, including six gold, six silver and four bronze medals.
On the penultimate day of Madeira 2022, she prevailed in a championship record time of 59.43 to beat Hungary’s Bianka Pap (1:01.19) and Lisa Kruger of the Netherlands (1:01.25) to the wall.
Rivard entered the race as the defending champion from London 2019 in the event and is also the reigning two-time Paralympic Games medallist, having set the world record of 58.14 last summer in Tokyo.
“I'm a little surprised with my time due to my last 72 hours. Over the past three days, I've been really trying to take the pressure off the results, just trying to have as much fun in the process as possible,” said Rivard, who didn’t finish the 400 free final on Tuesday due to a medical concern. “So I didn't necessarily have an expectation in regards to my time or position. I think it really helped me have a better race tonight.”
Rivard held a slim advantage of 14 hundredths of a second at the turn in the 100 free final but left the competition behind in the last 50.
“During a race, I don't watch the other swimmers, I watch the black line at the bottom of the pool,” said Rivard, who trains with coach Marc-André Pelletier at Club de Natation Région de Québec in Quebec City. “But I have a particular way of swimming the 100 meters. I'm more of a long distance swimmer, so I start slower than the other girls and explode in the second half, while they do the opposite a bit more. I don't panic mid-race because I know my strength is the second half.”
Rivard’s win upped Canada’s tally to 14 medals (6-4-4) with one day to go in the competition, matching its total from London 2019 (2-7-5).
“In general, I think everyone at this meet is getting pretty tired after six days,” said Canada’s senior team coach Mike Thompson. “For our part, our guys are swimming the way they need to swim in the morning to get into finals, and I think we’re really capitalizing on our competition getting tired right now.
“We have some good events on the final day. Aurélie’s 100 back, Alec Elliot’s 100 back, Aly (Van Wyck-Smart) and Nikita (Ens) in the 100 free S3, the 4x100 free 34 points relay... It’s going to be an exciting day for us.”
Canadians competed in eight others finals on Day 6.
In the men’s 200 individual medley SM8, 19-year-old Worlds rookie Félix Cowan of Brossard, Que., posted his fourth personal best in as many events this week, clocking 2:41.20 to take the sixth position.
Tokyo Paralympian Zach Zona of Simcoe, Ont., finished just behind his teammate in 2:41.22, while Philippe Vachon of Blainville, Que., was disqualified.
“I hardly expected to make finals this week. I'm really happy to have set personal bests in all of my events because that was the main goal,” said Cowan, who set a Canadian record in the 50 free S8 on Thursday. “The preparation with my coaches and the staff was the key. And the fact that I set a personal best in my first event on Monday, the 100 backstroke, took away some of the stress of competing in my first major international competition.”
In the women’s 200 free S5, Jessica Tinney of Scarborough, Ont., took fifth place in 3:43.63 to equal her best result of the week. The world championship debutant was also fifth on opening night in the 100 breaststroke SB4.
“I’m really, really happy. I couldn’t have asked for anything more in my world championship debut,” said Tinney, who has also set three personal bests so far this week. “We worked on my pacing a lot for this event. I felt really good, very strong in the water.”
Also finishing fifth on the night was three-time Paralympian Camille Bérubé of Gatineau, Que., who wrapped up her fifth and final world championships with a 1:44.10 effort in the women’s 100 breast SB6.
Fellow Tokyo Paralympian Danielle Kisser of Delta, B.C., was seventh in 1:49.99.
"I’m thrilled. This is my best ever result in this race and to be able to compete in this last final alongside a teammate was truly exceptional,” said Bérubé, who claimed the first Worlds medal of her career on Sunday, bronze in the 200 IM SM7. “I've known Danielle for over a decade, so for my last career race at Worlds, I couldn't have hoped for more.”
Kisser, who was disqualified after the morning preliminaries but was reinstated before the final, was also happy with her performance and thrilled to be part of her teammate’s Worlds finale.
“I met Cam in 2009 when I was 12. Growing up on the national team with her has been a really big joy. I love getting to race with her. I’m going to miss her but she’s off to bigger and better things. I’m just glad I was able to be part of her swimming career in some small way.”
In the men’s 100 backstroke S11, 20-year-old Matthew Cabraja of Brampton, Ont., ranked sixth in 1:16.76 to improve from his ninth-place finish in Tokyo and his 11th position in his Worlds debut at London 2019.
In the women’s 50 freestyle S7, Myriam Soliman of Saint-Hubert, Que., was seventh in 38.83. The 23-year-old was competing in her second final in as many nights in her Worlds debut, after placing eighth on Thursday in the 50 butterfly S7.
In the men’s 100 free S10, two-time Paralympian Alec Elliot of Kitchener, Ont., touched in sixth position with a time of 55.77.
Finally, in the penultimate race of the evening, Tyson MacDonald of Tillsonburg, Ont.,Nicholas Bennett of Parksville, B.C., Angela Marina of Cambridge, Ont., and Justine Morrier of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu teamed up to set a Canadian record of 4:29.96 in the mixed 4x100 medley relay S14, good for fifth place.
Three other Canadian women swam in the preliminaries on Friday.
Arianna Hunsicker of Surrey, B.C., posted a personal best time of 1:04.29 in the 100 free S10 en route to a ninth-place finish.
Katarina Roxon of Kippens, N.L., was ninth in the 100 back S9 (1:20.49), while Clémence Paré of Boucherville, Que., finished 10th in the 200 free S5 (4:15.66).
The seven-day competition runs until Saturday, with preliminaries set for 9 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET / 1 a.m. PT) and finals starting at 5 p.m. (noon ET / 9 a.m. PT) daily.
All finals are livestreamed on the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s Facebook page and Paralympic.ca as well as CBC Sports digital platforms: the free CBC Gem streaming service, cbcsports.ca, and the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices.
Full results: https://www.paralympic.org/madeira-2022/schedule-results