Top Paralympic Athletes Meet in Oregon for 2009 Spring Can-Am Swimming Championships

March 18, 2009, 4:24 p.m. (ET)
GRESHAM, Ore. - In the first, major swimming competition since the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, the world's top swimmers from the United States, Canada and Columbia will travel to Gresham, Ore. for the 2009 Spring Can-Am Swimming Championships held at Mt Hood Community College, March 19-21.

The U.S. Paralympics Swimming Team will be well represented at the meet with 21 of the 38 team members who competed in the 2008 Paralympic Games participating. The team took home 44 medals from Beijing, 17 of which were gold.

Among those competing include two-time Paralympian Jessica Long (Baltimore, Md.) will be competing in seven events. The 17 year old won six medals in Beijing including 4 gold and is currently the world record holder in 15 events. 

Kelley Becherer (Sheboygan, Wisc.) is looking to prove her dominance in the women's 50 freestyle (S3) after winning gold in Beijing over top Canadian swimmer Valérie Grand'Maison of Montreal by three tenths of a second. The two will also compete in 100 and 400 freestyle. Grand'Maison took gold in both events in Beijing.

Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Riverside, Calif.) will be defending his gold medal and world record in the 200 individual medley (SB7). In Beijing, his second Paralympic Games, the 20 year old also won the bronze medal in 100 breaststroke (SB7).

Oregon native Megan Smith (Eugene, Ore.) will be looking to medal for the first time at an international meet. Just out of medal contention at the 2007 Parapan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the young swimmer has been consistently improving since the 2008 Paralympic Trials. Smith was born with bilateral microthalmia and has been blind since birth.

Other noteworthy U.S. athletes competing include Beijing gold medalist Miranda Uhl (Alachua, Fla.), Beijing gold medalist Roy Perkins (Del Mar, Calif.), Beijing silver medalist Amanda Everlove (Wichita, Kan.) and Beijing bronze medalist Cody Bureau (Minneapolis, Minn.).

The Canadian team will be led by three-time Paralympian Benoît Huot who won two bronze medals this summer along with women's 100 backstroke (S9) world record holder and gold medalist Stephanie Dixon.

The Can-Am Swimming Championships is a joint effort between U.S. Paralympics Swimming and Swimming Canada to bring together the best Paralympic swimmers in North America and the world twice per season. The meet is an opportunity to nurture developing swimmers for their national team programs in the future and to continue challenging the national team to better performance. 

The event is free and open to the public.