RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Benoit Huot feels great about where the Canadian para-swim team is headed.
Continuing a strong outing for not only the established swimmers but the first time Paralympians as well, Alec Elliot, Aurelie Rivard and Tess Ratliffe join the veteran in the finals, and will swim for medals at the Olympic Aquatic Stadium.
With a strong contingent of young up and coming swimmers it looks like Canada may be primed for long term swimming success, and Huot is inspired.
“It’s good, Alec is doing well I think he’s in the final too, looking good for tonight,” he said quickly before heading to warm down. “It’s positive, the medals are getting tougher and tougher to get but I’m very proud to see where our movement is going, and how fast it’s getting.”
“It makes the medal more valuable, so it’s very positive.”
There have been seven first time Paralympians who qualified for their respective finals, none of them were able to grab a medal, but four of them were able to move up a spot or two between their heats and their final.
Not everyone is built to be a mentor, coaches believe; it can come naturally to some and be a struggle for others, and sometimes it just takes time.
Canadian coach Craig McCord has a collection of young athletes in Rio and having someone like Huot around can help smooth the path for them.
“Benoit has done something he’s never ever done before,” McCord said Thursday night after some of his youngest athletes hit the water. “He really took a mentor role on.
“I remember the camp when we first got into Gatineau back in late July, Benoit ate dinner with every single one of the athletes over the course of the training camp and really took a lot of time to make sure that he was giving them words of encouragement and words of advice as they went through the process.”
Huot and Elliot hit the water Saturday night in the men’s S10 100m backstroke against some tough competition, Maksym Krypak of the Ukraine set a world record in his heat with a time of 58.25.
The Canadian enters the race in fifth 1:01.03, and Elliot in seventh with 1:01.36.