Devin Gotell

Gotell surging towards a spot at Rio Paralympics

The Great Ghost concentrating on sprints after classification change

UPDATE: Gotell did qualify for the Paralympics, back in April, and will represent Canada at Rio.

TORONTO – Devin Gotell from Antigonish, NS was making waves on Saturday night in Toronto attempting to qualify for the 2016 Paralmypic Games.

The lanky legend was at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre hoping to earn his spot on the Canadian national team competing in the 100-metre backstroke.

Gotell posted a solid time of 1:05:66 earlier in the day during the prelims but wasn’t as sharp in the evening final.

“It’s almost a second slower,” said Gotell. “I wanted to be under 1:06:00. That was the initial goal. Ultimately, I thought I was going to be quite a bit better tonight, but it didn’t pan out that way.”

Devin Gotell (Lane 6) trying to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics.
Devin Gotell (Lane 6) trying to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics. (Phil Jones, Toronto Observer)

Gotell’s most recent success internationally came last year in this very pool winning gold in the 400-metre freestyle at the Parapan Games last summer. He added a silver medal in the 100m Backstroke and the 200m Individual Medley.

“I use to be a 400 freestyler, but things changed with my classification (S12),” said Gotell.  “They’ve mixed the S12s and S13s (visually impaired) so now it’s a lot more difficult to qualify in the 400 (freestyle) so I switched my focus to the 100 (backstroke) rather quickly.”

Presently racing out of the London Athletic Club, Gotell is known as the ‘Great Ghost’ in swimming circles. On Sunday he will find out if he has qualified for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

He’s also competing in the 100-metre freestyle on Sunday but according to Gotell, “It’s more of an event just for fun.”

A notable storyline concerning Gotell is that his sister Chelsey is a successful three time Paralympian. It’s safe to say swimming runs in the blood for the Gotell family and they will all be anticipating the 2016 Rio Team Canada Paralympic selections tomorrow night.

The Great Ghost seemed confident and optimistic as he vanished from the swimming pool. “It’s great to be here,” said Gotell. “It’s an honour to be at one of the biggest swim meets in Canada.”

Follow Phil @Phil_Jones2020

An earlier version of this story said Gotell had been working on being under 1:16 for the 100-metre backstroke. It should have said 1:06 and has been corrected, with apology.