Parksville swimmer Nicholas Bennett has won a gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
Bennett, 18, finished first in the men’s 200-metre freestyle Para-14 final on Wednesday (Aug. 2) evening, with his parents and grandparents watching back home. He said his victory had yet to sink in.
“I guess I haven’t fully comprehended it yet, to be honest,” he said. “I’m just absolutely ecstatic. (The strategy was) just hunker down. It started hurting by the 100-metre mark, but didn’t really matter at that point.”
He recently set a Canadian record and won silver at 2022 World Para Swimming Championships in Madeira, Portugal, but managed to top that.
“He was ready for the gold,” said Nicholas’s father, Shawn Bennett. “He called us that night and we exchanged a lot of pictures back and forth, because of course he got a lot of media attention from all sorts of different outlets.”
Nicholas’s flight is scheduled to land on the Island tomorrow (Aug. 5), and he will immediately head to the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre to swim with his friends in a regional meet, according to Shawn.
“He wants to go swim with his buddies and his friends for fun,” he said.
Nicholas, who for two years has trained at the High Performance Centre (CHP) – Québec in Montreal, will return home for a year to train at Ravensong Aquatic Centre in Qualicum Beach. His sister Haley, a former competitive swimmer and now assistant coach for Team BC, will be his coach.
“A lot of the media will say ‘Nicholas of CHP’,” Shawn said. “But whenever he competes internationally, he’s swimming under the banner of RAC, which is Ravensong Aquatic Club in Qualicum.”
Shawn said the family is excited to soon be together again in Parksville.
Next year they will watch him compete at the World Championships in Manchester and, hopefully, the Paris Paralympics in 2024.
— With a file from Canadian Press