Parksville swimmer Nicholas Bennett was in record-setting form at the recent Bell Canadian Swimming Trials in Victoria.
The former Ravensong Breakers member in Qualicum Beach, who now trains at the High Performance Centre in Quebec, put on gold-medal performances that saw him set four Canadian Para records in the multi-class 200-metre freestyle, 100 butterfly Para multi-class final, multi-class 200 individual medley, and 100 breaststroke.
“I feel like my training has paid off at this point,” Bennett told Swimming Canada. “Swimming in my first national meet in over three years, it feels great to have this under my belt.”
Bennett’s coach Mike Thompson said he expected Bennett to be faster than when he made his debut in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, that was held in 2021 after the event was postponed in due to COVID-19.
“He has been training and competing very well up until this point,” said Thompson. “All eyes were on him and we planned to not disappoint at our first real trials since 2019.”
Coming back to Vancouver Island was a homecoming for Bennett, who has been away from his family pursuing the high-level training opportunity in Quebec.
“It’s a huge sacrifice for Nick but also for his family,” said Thompson. “Having trials here in Victoria was great for him. It would have been better with spectators, but it’s Nick’s backyard and an environment he is very comfortable. In a lot of ways it was a home-field advantage.”
The trials, held at Saanich Commonwealth Place attracted 552 swimmers from 131 clubs across the country. The competition served as a tryout for the Swimming Canada teams that will compete at the FINA World Championships in June in Budapest, Hungary; the Commonwealth Games in July in Birmingham, England; and the World Para Swimming Championships scheduled for June in Madeira, Portugal.
Following his golden performance at the trials, Bennett is home in Parksville for a well-deserved break until April 19. He will be returning to Quebec next week to resume his training.
“We will be heading to Arizona for a training camp from May 1-15,” said Thompson. “We will leave for world championships shortly after returning.”