There was a look of visible frustration on Benoit Huot’s face when he completed the 200-metre individual medley (IM) at the Canadian Para Swimming trials in Toronto earlier this year.
Huot won the silver medal, but he was not satisfied at all with his time of 2:14.07 as it is well off his usual pace of times between 2:10-2:12.
“It’s been tough with that race in the past two years,” said Huot — competing at his fifth Paralympics in September — following that race at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. “Obviously in London I did well (2012 Paralympics gold), 2013 I did well, 2014 I did pretty good, but last year and this year seems to be a challenge and I don’t know what I do differently either.”
He was unable to post a 200-metre IM time of under 2:12 at both the Toronto Parapan Am Games (2:14.32), silver medal and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Swimming World Championship (2:12.50).
Almost immediately after his tough race at the trials, the Longueuil, Que. native headed to the locker room to dissect his performance with his coach Mike Thompson.
“He identified some things that he wants to do better in training going forward, and some new things he wants to try, and I think they are good things,” said Thompson.
Huot has a clear idea on how he plans to return to form in the 200-metre race.
“The fly and the breaststroke are not my strengths”, he said. “They are my weak strokes. I have to spend time on those strokes, especially the breaststroke.
Huot, 32, is confident that having the IM as his first swim in Rio will be beneficial, because he finds that prioritizing the first race of any competition has been a successful strategy.
He opened his 2012 London Paralympics schedule with the 200-metre IM. He captured his third gold medal in this event with a world-record time of 2:10.01.
Thompson is convinced Huot is still capable of achieving success in this swimming category.
“I still think that he is a top dog and a guy that is a top contender for a medal.”
Benoit Huot was the special guest for Episode Two of the Road to Rio Podcast. We speak to Benoit about the upcoming Games, what motivates him to continue competing and what the experience was like to carry the Canadian flag at London 2012.