After qualifying for August's International Paralympic Committee Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada, by breaking two world records at the CanAms in Minneapolis, Minn., American swimmer Ian Silverman (Baltimore, Md.) has been voted IPC Athlete of the Month for April.
The 17-year-old received 38 percent of the public's vote via Paralympic.org, narrowly beating Russian sled hockey player Mikhail Ivanov with 35 percent. Silverman also topped U.S. track and field athlete Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.), who won both the Boston Marathon and the London Marathon within a week span.
At April's Spring CanAms, Silverman secured his place on the 2013 U.S. Paralympics Swimming World Team going to Montreal with record times in the men's 800-meter and 1,500m freestyle S10 events, building on his gold-medal success in the 400m freestyle S10 at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Heading into the World Championships Silverman has changed his mind set following London.
"My routine before a race has definitely changed and for the better. I was not used to some of the protocol that I had to follow in London before I swam," explained Silverman.
"It took me out of my comfort zone which was good because it made me learn how to adapt to any situation that could occur before I swam. Also, having swum in front of 18,000 people, I don't get as nervous getting on the blocks in front of much smaller crowds."
In Montreal, Silverman may not have it all it all his own way. He will be up against local-boy and four-time Paralympian Benoit Huot, a winner of 19 Paralympic and 28 World Championship medals, who at London 2012 finished ahead of Silverman in two of their three races.
"I definitely think him competing in front of his home crowd will give him a great advantage," Silverman said. "However, I still believe I can beat him and anyone else in the 400m freestyle. The biggest challenge will be competing against him in other events like the 200m individual medley. He is a great racer, a great friend, and I have all the respect in the world for him."
With age very much on his side, Silverman thinks he still has a lot left in the tank. Looking towards Rio 2016, he believes he can add more medals to his tally.
"I have achieved a lot at a young age but I still have lots to improve on and lots to learn," Silverman said. "I plan on competing at a high level for a long time. In Rio, I plan on defending my 400m title and adding a couple more medals, hopefully gold. "I don't think I am anywhere near my peak."
Sled hockey player Greg Westlake of Canada and Swede shooter Martin Halls were also shortlisted for the IPC's Athlete of the Month competition.
The IPC Swimming World Championships will take place in Montreal from 12-19 August, 2013. Around 650 of the world's best swimmers from 60 countries are expected to compete.