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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Paralympic champion Valerie Grand'Maison announces retirement from swimming

MONTREAL - Canadian swimmer Valerie Grand'Maison has announced her retirement after winning nine Paralympic medals, including four gold.

The 25-year-old from Montreal also earned three gold medals and a silver medal at last year's International Paralympic Committee world swim championships in her hometown.

She retires holding world records in the 200-metre individual medley and 400-metre freestyle for the S13 classification, which is for visually-impaired athletes.

"After much soul searching, I am confident that my swimming career has come to an end," Grand'Maison said Tuesday in a statement from Swimming Canada.

Grand'Maison struggled through a shoulder injury prior to the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, yet she won gold in the 200 I.M. in world-record time. She also collected silver in both the 100-metre and 50-metre freestyle.

She led a Canadian sweep of the 100-metre butterfly at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. She also won the 100-metre and 400-metre freestyle.

"Although the race itself is a blur, I do remember vividly the gut-wrenching pre-race jitters and the flowing tears of joy as I stood on the highest step of the podium for the first time," Grand'Maison said.

Grand'Maison has a psychology degree from McGill. She plans to pursue post-graduate studies in global health at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

"This gets me really excited about the future. And very scared," she said.

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