Vernon’s Riley McLean won a gold and silver at the Canadian Paralympic Swimming Trials in Toronto

Vernon’s Riley McLean won a gold and silver at the Canadian Paralympic Swimming Trials in Toronto

Swimmers near Paralympics bid

Riley McLean is close to a Team Canada Paralympics swimming berth. Sarah Mehain is closer

Riley McLean is close to a Team Canada Paralympics swimming berth.

Sarah Mehain is closer.

Both Vernon swimmers competed at the 2016 Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Swimming Trials at the Pan-Am Games Pool in Toronto.

Mehain, who competed at the 2012 Paralympics in London, is one of 22 athletes nominated for a spot on the 2016 Canadian Paralympics team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sept. 7 to 18.

Mehain, 21, who swims at McGill University in Montreal, won silver in Toronto in the 50-metre butterfly with a time of 37.89 seconds. She qualified for the final by finishing second in her preliminary heat in 38.41.

Suffering from hemiplegia, a condition that affects her coordination as one side of her body is stronger than the other, Mehain also competed  in the 200-m individual medley in Toronto, placing fifth in the final, and she also competed in the preliminaries of the 50-m freestyle.

McLean, a Grade 10 student at W.L. Seaton Secondary, did not qualify for Rio but is seen as the next generation of Para athletes who will compete for a spot on the 2020 team for Tokyo.

He achieved rock star status in Toronto, signing autographs and posing for fan pictures, after he won gold and set a new Canadian record in the S4 50-m backstroke with a personal best of 57.88, and won silver in the SM4 150-m IM with a PB of 3:47.45, shaving nearly 28 seconds off his personal best time.

“Every time I did a race I had more adrenaline than a regular race,” said McLean, who swims with a congenital condition called arthrogryposis that restricts the use of all of the joints in his body except his hips and spinal column.

“There was such a huge crowd for the races. Most events I go to it’s just other swimmers and some parents in the crowd. The crowd’s energy was awesome and it was almost overwhelming.”

McLean also finished fifth in the S4 50-m fly with a new Canadian record and PB of 1:00.45. He shaved 3.5 seconds off his PB in the 50-free, where he finished 21st; trimmed 22.92 seconds off his 20-free PB, where he placed 12th; and was 23rd in the 100-m free with a PB of 2:06.66.

Four former or current Vernon Kokanee Swim Club members competed in Toronto at the Olympic Swim Trials.

Current Kokanee Meredith Levorson was seventh in the 100-m back, ninth in the 200-m IM, 42nd in the 100-m free and 58th in the 50-m free.

Wouter Terpstra, who swims in Victoria for Island Swimming, was 52nd in the 200-fly and 57th in the 100-fly.

Former Kokanee Asia Minnes, who swam as an independent (no club affiliation), was fifth in the 200-IM, ninth in the 100-m breaststroke and  47th in the 200-m breast.

Joe Byram, who now swims for Edmonton’s Keyano Club, was eighth in the 100-m back and 15th in the 200-m back.