World Champion para-swimmer is full of confidence after successful 2015
This time last year, Aurélie Rivard was training under the radar for a double installment of international competition.
At this years Canadian Paralympic trials, the now World Champion and Parapan Am gold medalist was busy meeting the expectations that come with her new star status.
After winning the 200-metre individual medley at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, Rivard chatted about what has changed in light of her achievements in 2015.
“I have a lot more confidence than I had before,” said the 19-year-old. “Ever since 2012, I wanted to be World Champion, to win gold but I didn’t know if I could because I hadn’t done it before.
“So now that I have I know I can do it again.”
Rivard swam 2:35.99 to secure a Paralympic qualifying time and guarantee her spot on the plane to Rio for September’s games.
“I’m swimming over my expectations, actually,” said the Québec native. “I didn’t think I was going to swim this fast, considering all the circumstances now with my health.”
Rivard, who won a record seven medals at the Parapan Am games in Toronto last summer, had been dealing with stiffness in her upper body following her swim in the 400m freestyle the previous day.
Swimming Canada’s female para-swimmer of the year in 2014 and 2015 was only 16 years old the last time she competed in the Paralympic trials. Four years on, she’s an established star and acknowledges the experience is a little different this time round.
“I’m much more aware of what’s going on,” said the 100-m freestyle world record holder. “Four years ago I was so young. I didn’t realize how big of a thing it was.
“Of course I have a lot more pressure now but it’s a lot more exciting because I can enjoy it, I know what’s it is like, I’ve been there.”
Rivard competed as the top seed in multiple events at the trials hosted at the Sports Centre in Scarborough, including the 100-metre backstroke and the 100-metre freestyle. The S10 classified swimmer isn’t fazed by spending so much time in the pool.
Aurlie Rivard wins Gold in the 50-metre Freestyle S10 at 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow. Courtesy of Paralympic Games.
“I have a little routine to get physically and mentally ready,” said Rivard, who hails originally from St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu. “But I don’t like to be too focused because when I’m left alone with my thoughts it’s not a good thing.”
“I’m still pretty social, I talk to my rivals and my teammates before the race.”
If Rivard builds on the silver medal she won in the 400-metre freestyle at 2012 Paralympic Games in London, and returns from Rio with gold, there will be more than her teammates vying for her attention.