On Friday at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Bennett, 17, set a new Canadian record in his men’s 200-metre freestyle S14 class. His time of one minute, 56.52 seconds beat his own record by nearly two seconds as he finished in sixth place overall. Bennett ended up just under one second from third place and a bronze medal.
Reece Dunn of Great Britan was the gold medallist, setting a world record of 1:52.40. Gabriel Bandeira of Brazil was second at 1:52.74, with Viacheslav Emeliantsev, swimming under the Russian Paralympic Committee banner, won bronze at 1:55.58.
Bennett was one of Canada’s revelations in Para swimming at the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima. Only 15, he won three gold medals and added a silver in the S14 class to boost his chances for Tokyo 2020.
In April 2019, Bennett received the Male Para Swim of the Meet at the Canadian Swimming Trials for his golden performance in the S14 200m freestyle. He broke the Canadian record in that race as well as in the 100m freestyle and 200m individual medley. He finished the competition with a gold, three silver and a bronze in the multi-class races.
At the 2018 Canadian Swimming Trials, he won four medals and lowered national S14 marks in the 50m free, 100 free and 50 breaststroke. The competition was to determine the Canadian team for the Para Pan Pacific Championships, but at 14, Bennett was too young to be on the team at the time.
On Wednesday, Bennett finished sixth in his heat in in the men’s 100 butterfly S14 event, setting another Canadian record with a time of 58.38 seconds. Bandeira won the gold in the final in 54.76.
On Sunday, Bennett finished fifth in the 100 breaststroke SB14 event, in a time of 1:06.94, just 1.03 seconds out of a medal slot. Naohide Yamaguchi of Japan won gold with a world-record time of 1:03.77. Jake Michel of Australia was second at 1:04.28 and Scott Quin of Great Britain third at 1:05.91. Tuesday, Bennett swims the men’s 200 individual medley.
Bennett’s sister Haley, head coach for the Ravensong Aquatic Club in Qualicum Beach, and coach for Nicholas up until 2019, when he moved to the high performance training centre in Montreal, under coach Mike Thompson, said Nicholas was pleased with his efforts so far.
“He called us from cold tub where he was recovering,” said Haley. “He’s really looking forward to tomorrow.”
— NEWS Staff