Parksville swimmer Nicholas Bennett has earned a chance to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. (Submitted photo)

Parksville swimmer Nicholas Bennett has earned a chance to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. (Submitted photo)

Parksville swimmer earns spot on Canadian Paralympic team for Tokyo Games

Nicholas Bennett heads to Japan in August

Parksville swimmer Nicholas Bennett has earned a spot in the Canadian team that will compete in the Tokyo Paralympic Games beginning Aug. 24.

“I am excited that all of my training has paid off and I am looking forward to representing Canada,” Bennett said in an email to the PQB News.

Following the cancellation of the Paralympic Swimming Trials last month due to the global COVID-1, in order to fill the remaining four of Canada’s 19 positions, Swimming Canada invited eligible athletes to demonstrate competitive readiness via submission of training logs and data as well as a video-recorded time trial performance.

Bennett, along with Matthew Cabraja of Brampton, Ont., Tammy Cunnington of Ponoka, Alta., and Angela Marina of Cambridge, Ont., earned the spots, completing an unusual nomination process that started back in September 2019 at the World Para Swimming Championships in London.

“Nicholas, Matthew, Tammy and Angela along with their coaches have each demonstrated through their performances at the end of May their talent, tenacity, adaptability and ability to perform on demand,” said Wayne Lomas, Swimming Canada Associate High Performance Director and Para Swimming National Coach. “Off the back of these performances, I am confident that they will be in even better shape to perform for Canada in Tokyo this summer.”

Bennett had made a strong case to land one of the spots on Team Canada after posting a string of good results that saw him win gold medals in two major competitions in 2019 that included setting world and Canadian records. But the 2020 Paralympic Games were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was moved to 2021.

“I am not surprised at all that Nicholas made it,” said Mike Thompson, Bennett’s coach. “That’s what we were going for.”

Bennett has been training at CHP-Quebec in Montreal which Thompson said has been a big advantage for him.

“He lives far away from his family and there literally hasn’t been anything to do except train,” said Thompson. “So it has been a very tough year trying to keep everyone engaged without racing. We did most of our racing in unofficial time trials against no one. So it’s going to be very beneficial for Nick to start racing people again.

“Overall I’m very impressed that Nick took the initiative to live in Montreal, far away from his family, stayed focused and was able to compete fast enough to win a spot on the team with his training partners Tess, James, Morgan and Zach.”

The selection process for the team was way different from what Swimming Canada have been accustomed to.

“These have been difficult times and this was a challenging process,” added Swimming Canada’s chief executive officer, Ahmed El-Awadi. “In the end, we’re confident this is the best team to represent Canada. We know they will all do us proud.”

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RELATED STORY: Greater Victoria runners close in on Olympic, Paralympic spots

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