Paralympic swimming icon Benoit Huot has retired from competition after 20 Paralympic medals, five consecutive Paralympic appearances and a slew of world records.
Huot represented Canada in the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Paralympics, winning medals in all five. A Swimming Canada press release referred to him as “one of the most celebrated Paralympians worldwide,” and he’s been a fixture of the Para swimming scene for more than 20 years. He was Canada’s flagbearer at the 2012 Paralympic closing ceremonies, among many other national and international honors.
The full Swimming Canada press release, including glowing quotes from a host of key swimming names, is below:
MONTREAL – After more than two decades of Para-swimming, Benoit Huot is announcing his retirement from the sport.
“It’s time to hang up my Speedo. It was the greatest of honours to represent our country and I’m proud to have been able to fulfill all my competitive dreams. Sport is the most amazing school of life and I had the privilege of being its student for the past 25 years.”
Born with a malformation in his right leg, commonly called club foot, Benoit Huot started swimming at the age of 8. A member of the Canadian National Para Swimming Team since 1998, he is one of the most decorated Paralympic athletes with 20 medals won at five Paralympic Games.
“Benoit is one of the most celebrated Paralympians worldwide but he is so much more than all the accolades and achievements I could list. The reality is that Benoit has transcended sport and will leave a legacy of sportsmanship, courage and dignity. He was and will always be an ambassador for swimming, the entire Paralympic movement, and an inspiration to anyone who feels they can’t do or achieve something. Swimming Canada is very proud of Benoit and his contribution to our family. This is not just a retirement but a celebration of Benoit’s swimming career, a story which I believe has not reached its end, but is just entering a new chapter,” said Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi.
Huot also claimed 32 medals at six world championships while shattering more than 60 world records in his category, a phenomenal career
““Throughout his long career as an athlete, Benoit embodied determination and the desire to win, but always carried himself with dignity and class. He was such an incredible ambassador for swimming, for Para sport and for Canada. To our friend, I wish you a happy retirement, to the champion, I say mission accomplished, and to the hero, I say carry on,” said Mr. Marc-André Fabien, President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
A member of the Order of Canada since 2016, Benoit was honoured last year as a Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec. He was also Canada’s flagbearer at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and is a multiple recipient of the “Person with a Disability of the Year” King Clancy Award.
Working as a swimming commentator for ICI Radio-Canada Télé and as a contributor to Les Éclaireurs on ICI Première, Huot now intends to continue his mission with youth with disabilities through various initiatives including the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Foundation and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. He also has a series of conferences planned across Canada.
Benoit Huot’s importance to the national team, Canadian swimming, Canadian amateur sport and the Paralympic movement as a whole cannot be understated. A who’s who of the swimming world expressed their praise for the outstanding athlete and person:
Mike Thompson, Ben’s coach at High Performance Centre – Quebec
Ben’s performances and presence have helped the Paralympic movement in Canada so much. His vision to have a Paralympic medal one day mean as much as an Olympic medal attracted me to the Paralympic movement and inspires me to stay here until that vision becomes a reality. I know that Ben will be successful, no matter what he does. I’ve seen him tackle a lot of things and I’ve seen him identify and capitalize on the best opportunities under stress and through adversity. It’s just in his nature; he’s a winner. I’ll be following the next chapter in his life with much excitement and anticipation – just as I followed him up and down the pool. Congrats on a great career, Ben!
Cheryl Gibson, Swimming Canada President and Olympic medallist
Benoit Huot has been a shining star of Swimming Canada’s Paralympic team. As a medalist in five Paralympic Games, his swimming prowess is legendary. However, it is his positive energy and enthusiasm which has won the hearts of Canadians. On behalf of Swimming Canada, I congratulate Benoit on his stellar swimming career and wish him the best of fortune with his post-swimming career.
Pierre Lafontaine, former Swimming Canada CEO and National Coach
Benoit has been an inspiration to so many and at so many levels. I’ve known Benoit since he was just a young athlete that made a decision to come to Arizona for over a month to train with us at the Phoenix Swim Club. For a 17-year-old to decide that challenging himself with some of the best swimmers in the world speaks for the man he has become! Classy, tough, an amazing ambassador for the Canadian Paralympic program in general with a vision of greatness. Benoit, you are a great Canadian and an amazing man!
Aurelie Rivard, Paralympic champion
I always knew this day would come, but not so soon. Ben has been an important person for me and my career and I owe him a lot. He inspired me to work hard and push beyond myself every day to achieve my goals. I have very good memories of my 10 years as teammates and although I know this is not the last time I will see him, it makes me sad I will no longer share a lane with him. I wish him all the best for the future.
Mark Tewksbury, Olympic champion
Benoit Huot is like the Michael Phelps of Canadian Paralympic swimming. Iconic and legendary. But beyond his athletic achievements, it is his leadership and example that he will be most remembered for. Benoit was an excellent swimmer but was an even better teammate. He set the tone for the next generation of excellence in Canadian Paralympic swimming.”
Ryan Cochrane, Olympic medallist
“Like many other Canadians I was in awe of Ben’s ability to not only be the best in the world, but to do so for so many years. Just as impressive was his optimism, positivity, and connection with the people around him. I know I will always be thankful to have had the chance to call him a teammate”
Guy Dorion, Ben’s coach when he made his first national team
“When Benoit was put in front of the reality of the challenge that awaited him (last event to qualify) at his first national team trials, he was 14, he was anxious. I could see it in his eyes, during our conversation, he understood he had nothing to lose, all he had to do was focus on giving everything he had and, after the race, ask himself if he had done so. Mission accomplished! He made the national team and, since then, Benoit has matured a lot. His commitment to the sport and his training etiquette became a model at the club for other athletes, who then understood the meaning and value of investing the necessary efforts to achieve great things.”
Pierre Lamy, former coach
“I had the immense privilege of working with Benoit for five years. Those were intense moments that I’ll never forget. For me, he will remain a model of determination, hard work and perseverance. Now, I wish you to continue to live life to the fullest with your family and all the best in your future endeavours. Thank you Benoit for your contribution to the sport.”
BENOIT HUOT BY THE NUMBERS
The age Huot started swimming: 8
Year Huot made his first Team Canada appearance: 1998 (age 14)
Number of world championships medals won as a 14-year-old: 6
Number of world championships: 7 (+1 he was selected for but was cancelled)
Number of world championships medals: 32
Number of years Huot swam for Team Canada: 20
Number of Commonwealth Games: 3 (+1 as Assistant Chef de Mission)
Number of Commonwealth Games medals: 4
Number of Parapan American Games: 2
Number of Parapan Am Games medals: 12
Number of Paralympic Games: 5
Number of Paralympic medals: 20
Number of Canadian swimmers with more than 20 Paralympic medals: 1 (Tim McIsaac, 28)
Number of gold medals at the Paralympics: 9
Number of Paralympic athletes at Sydney 2000: 3,879
Number of athletes at Rio 2016: 4,328
Number of worldwide TV views of the 2000 Paralympic Games: 300 million
Number of worldwide TV views of 2016 Paralympic Games: 4.1 billion
Total hours of coverage of the Sydney Games: 4
Total hours of coverage of the Rio Games: 5,110
Number of years awarded Swimming Canada’s Male Para-swimmer of the Year: 12
Number of current major long-course records: 10 (6 Canadian, 2 Americas, 1 world championship, 1 Parapan Am Games)
The year Huot became an appointed Member of the Order of Canada: 2017
The Year Huot became a Knight of the Order of Quebec: 2018