Simard Goes Out with a Bang at Speedo Eastern Canadian Championships

MONTREAL, February 21. SOPHIE Simard of Quebec City broke her national short course record in the women’s 200-meter freestyle on Sunday to conclude the 2006 Speedo Eastern Canadian Swimming Championships which were held at the Claude-Robillard Centre. Simard, who is preparing for next month’s Commonwealth Games, clocked 1:56.14 to eclipse her previous mark of 1:56.53 set in January 2002. Simard was also the most successful swimmer this week with five individual victories. She also won the 100 butterfly (1:00.64) on Sunday and earlier this week was first in the 100 and 800 freestyles and 50 butterfly.

“With the great swims I was having all week I felt there was a chance I could break my record tonight," said Simard. "I’ve come close to beating it a few times so it feels great to finally lower it again especially this close to the Games. The first half of my race stood out for me because it felt so easy and controlled. It shows I’m in great shape and that my training is going very well.”

Other winners in women’s open competition were Michelle Laprade (1:11.56) of Montreal in the 100 breaststroke and Monika Stitski in the 400 individual medley (4:42.12). In the men’s open competition, Matthew Huang of Montreal completed a golden sweep of the breaststroke events with a victory in the 100-meter race (1:01.64). Huang also won the 50 and 200-meter breaststroke races.

“I was really pleased with my consistency, this was my fourth meet this month and I was feeling the effects," said Huang, who moved last year to Montreal from Vancouver where he was born and raised. “I wanted to get in as much racing as possible before heading into another training cycle. My main focus this year is to qualify for the Pan Pacific Championships (August 17-20 in Victoria).”

Jonathan Aubry of Montreal and Francesco Zuccharo of Brampton, Ont., each notched their second wins placing first in the 400 IM (4:21.93) and 200 freestyle (1:49.53), respectively. Arjun Muralidharan of Quebec City won the 100 butterfly (56.58).