West Island swimmers head to Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England
Commonwealth Sport Canada (CSC) and Swimming Canada have announced the athletes who have been selected to represent Team Canada in swimming at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, taking place from July 28th to August 8th. Swimming Canada confirmed the eight Para swimmers who will be among the 31 athletes representing Canada in the pool at the fully integrated event. The group includes ten-time Paralympic medallist Aurélie Rivard and fellow returning Gold Coast 2018 medallist Philippe Vachon, while Commonwealth Games first-timers include two-time Paralympic medallist Nicolas-Guy Turbide. “I’m excited to be able to represent Canada at my third Commonwealth Games,” said Rivard, who trains alongside Turbide and Games teammate Alec Elliot and the Club de Natation Région de Québec.
“It’s always a privilege to train and race next to our Olympic program competitors and witness some amazing races from Canadian swimmers as both of our teams come together.” Canada won 20 medals in the pool at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia with 3 gold, eleven silver, and 6 bronze medals. That was Canada’s third-largest swimming medal haul, behind only Auckland 1990 (23 medals) and Kuala Lumpur 1998 (21). “We anticipate that the spectators at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre will experience an exciting and competitive swimming competition at the brand new venue,” says Scott Stevenson, Executive Director, Team Canada 2022. “We appreciate the work Swimming Canada’s technical leadership team have undertaken to ensure we will have a competitive team for the Birmingham Games this summer.” Eight Para swimmers will join 23 Olympic program athletes, 22 of whom were nominated following last month’s Canadian Swimming Trials in Victoria, B.C. The 23rd swimmer, Stephen Calkins of the University of Calgary Swim Club, was added as a replacement for the original qualifier Yuri Kisil, who declined his spot to focus on rehabilitating his injured shoulders following next month’s FINA World Championships.
The list includes defending 100-m and 200-m backstroke Commonwealth Games Champion Kylie Masse, and returning Commonwealth medallists Kayla Sanchez, Penny Oleksiak, and Rebecca Smith. National team veteran Katerine Savard, the 100-m butterfly champion from Glasgow 2014 and former Games record holder, makes her return to the Games after sitting out in 2018.
Meanwhile, Swimming Canada’s 2021 Male Swimmer of the Year Josh Liendo, fresh off a three-medal performance at last year’s FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) will be among the rookies to watch, as will his 15-year-old High Performance Centre – Ontario teammate Summer McIntosh, winner of four events at last month’s Trials.
“I’m so excited. I love Games settings. I’m looking forward to a fun environment but I’m also there to race first,” said Liendo, who like most of the team will be competing at FINA World Championships next month in Budapest. “It’s going to be a busy summer but I’m ready for it. I’m looking to do my thing, race hard and race fast.”
The games will also feature strong representation from West Islanders. Pointe-Claire's Eric Brown, and Beaconsfield's Patrick Hussey, both coached by Pointe-Claire Swim Club's Martin Gingras will be in attendance.
The Swimming competition will take place from July 29 to Aug. 3 at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre. Swimming Canada High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson will serve as team leader, with Senior Coach, Olympic Program Martyn Wilby as head coach. The team will gather in Caen, France, for its staging camp before traveling into Birmingham.
“We are looking forward to preparing for the Games in first-class facilities in France, which will also be our staging location for the Paris 2024 Games,” Atkinson said. “The Commonwealth Games have always been an important competition on the international calendar, offering world-class racing and the experience of a multi-sport Games environment. We look forward to some great performances as our team represents Canada in Birmingham.”
Birmingham 2022 will feature 19 sports and 8 para-sports as part of its program with up to 4,500 athletes taking part. The Commonwealth Games are the only multi-sport event that feature equal standing for sport and para-sport events, and these 2022 Games will showcase the largest para-sport program ever. In addition, for the first time in its history, the Games will feature more medal events for women (135) than men (133).