Shelby Newkirk Breaks Para World Record Twice At Canadian Trials

Photo Courtesy: Vaughn Ridley/Swimming Canada

One Para-swimming world record was broken twice, and another was threatened Thursday during the second night of the 2018 Canadian Swimming Trials.

Saskatoon’s Shelby Newkirk broke her own world record in the S7 100-metre backstroke in the morning preliminaries, then went even faster in the evening finals.

“I’m so excited about it all,” said the 22-year-old who has generalized dystonia, a progressive neurological disorder similar to Parkinson’s.

Newkirk began the day timed in one minute, 21.42 seconds, which knocked .01 off the world mark she set last year at the Para-swimming Canadian Open in Toronto. She returned in the evening and sliced another 1.29 seconds off the record.

“This morning I was really happy with my last 30 metres but the first bit I knew I could work on,” said Newkirk. “I knew if I could get that first 50 faster I would be able to beat it no problem. I’m going to keep training and try and go as fast as I can.”

Aurelie Rivard of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, served notice her world record in the S10 100-m freestyle is in her sights. Rivard, who won three gold medals at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, finished the multi-class 100-m freestyle in 1.00.42, just .35 off her world mark.

“Every since I broke (that record) three years ago I wanted to break it again,” said Rivard. “It’s on my mind every year. I would like to be break it. It’s been there long enough.”

Para-swimming legend Benoit Huot reached the podium twice. Huot was second in the multi-class 100-m freestyle in 57.73 seconds then returned to finish third in the multi-class 100-m backstroke in 1:05.01.

Huot, an S10 swimmer who has won 20 medals competing at five Paralympics, hasn’t decided how much longer he will swim.

“I’m not getting any younger,” said the 34-year-old, who is expecting the birth of his first child this fall and plans to pursue an executive MBA at Queen’s University.

“Life will definitely change in the next few weeks . . . with a little girl coming in the fall.

“After Rio I knew every moment I have the opportunity to swim and to race I need to embrace and enjoy because this could be it. I know that I’m close to the end. It’s been a great adventure. The only word that comes to mind right now is grateful.”

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