Teenagers Cosgriffe and Maxwell excited about prospect of first Paralympics

Canadian Paralympic Committee

May 17, 2024

Newbies meet ‘’A’’ time qualifying standard this week

Reid Maxwell

TORONTO – Reid Maxwell is a towering figure this week at the Paralympic swimming trials being held at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

First of all, the 16-year-old from St. Albert, Alta. is a lean 6’4’’ and his long curly locks give him the allure of a rock band member.

And he is a star in the pool as well.

This week, Maxwell has lowered Canadian records in the S8 100-m butterfly, 400-m freestyle and the 100 freestyle. It’s in the 400 free that he clocked below the ‘’A’’ standard to meet the requirements to be nominated to the 2024 Paralympic Games team.

Australian Paul Birmingham, head coach at the Edmonton Keyano Swim Club, coaches Maxwell with his integrated Para and able-bodied group.

‘’He’s got a really bright future,’’ said Birmingham, a three-time head coach at the Olympic Games. ‘’He gets the job done every day whether it’s in competition or in training. He is part of our national group and he works just as hard as everybody else. He sets his goals, not the loudest guy in the world, but determined to get it done.’’

Maxwell, born without a lower right leg, has already been scouting his potential opponents at the Games.

‘’I’ve faced a few of them but I’m also keeping tabs on who I feel will be up there,’’ he said. ‘’I want to have a good idea of what will be required in both preliminaries and final to keep up with them.’’

Maxwell, Katie Cosgriffe of Oakville, Ont., and Sebastian Massabie of Surrey, B.C. are the three Para swimmers among the nine that have met an ‘’A’’ standard at trials so far (through Thursday) that have no Paralympic Games experience.

Cosgriffe, 18, made her world championships debut last year in Manchester and reached three finals including an impressive fourth place in the S10 100-m butterfly and fifth in the 100 backstroke.

She’s also a record breaker this week, lowering her mark in the 100 fly, the race in which she beat the ‘’A’’ standard.

Racing in the S10 category, Cosgriffe has a great opponent and teammate in Aurélie Rivard, a 10-time Paralympic Games medallist and multi world record holder.

‘’I look up to Aurélie a lot,’’ said Cosgriffe, named Swimming Canada’s Breakout Para Swimmer of the Year for 2023. ‘’Since I started Para swimming she’s always been at the top and she has the times I’m striving to go for eventually in my career.’’

The two went head-to-head in Thursday’s 100 free.

‘’When I race beside her, she really pushes me, and I tried to stay beside her for that first 50. It didn’t really work out, but I got a personal best and I can’t be unhappy with that.’’

Cosgriffe’s first Para swimming meet was a team trials in 2022 where she qualified for the Canada Games. She turned to Para swimming after being diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) in early 2021.

‘’It’s then that I realized that I have the potential to go to Paris in 2024,’’ she said. ‘’Being only two years out at that time I was told I might not have enough time to go to those Games, but I have to credit my coach Dave Tontini. He really believed in me when no one else did, even myself. He knows my potential and believes in me 110 percent.’’

Massabie reached the A standard in the S5 100 freestyle on Thursday with a national mark. He has lowered his world mark in the 50 fly on Monday and the Canadian record in the 150 IM.

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