Cameron Leslie, Becca Meyers Break World Records; Alice Tai Wins Sixth Gold Medal of World Para Swimming Championships

Cameron Leslie broke the world record in the S4 50 free that had stood for 15 years. Photo Courtesy: Getty Images via Swimming New Zealand

The fifth night of finals from the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London slowed down a little bit with only three total world records falling, but there were still plenty of fireworks since Cameron Leslie of New Zealand broke a world record that had stood since 2004. USA’s Becca Meyers also broke the 200 IM world record in a silver medal performance. Great Britain’s Alice Tai also won her sixth gold medal of the meet in winning the medley relay to break a world record at the end of the session.

Men’s 400 Free

In one of the best races of the entire meet, Jacobo Garrido of Spain won a nail biter of a race in the S9 400 free as he won the gold medal with a 4:17.17. Garrido was in a heck of a race with silver medal winner Brenden Hall (4:17.44) of Australia, bronze medal winner Ugo Didier (4:17.53) of France, and fourth place finisher Federico Morlacchi (4:17.86) of Italy.

As the reigning Paralympic champion, Hall admitted he was disappointed he won’t be taking home the gold, but nevertheless, is eager to improve and head into next year as the underdog.

“Look, I’ve got to be honest, I’m disappointed. I’ve put a lot of work into it and unfortunately it doesn’t come together in the end and that’s the disappointing part, but you know I’m still happy to pick up silver for Australia,” he said post-race.

“Taking the positive out of it, I haven’t been the underdog in ten years so I can go back to being the underdog and come back stronger – get a bit more mongrel in me, this old dog can learn new tricks, so we’ll see how we go.”

Women’s 400 Free

Australia’s Lakeisha Patterson won the S9 400 free gold medal with a 4:38.29 as she broke the Oceania record, winning by five seconds over Great Britain’s Toni Shaw (4:43.20). Australia got two on the podium with Ellie Cole (4:45.56) winning the bronze medal.

Patterson’s top honor marked her first individual world championship gold and, contrary to her nickname Lucky, there was no luck involved – just plenty of hard work.

“It’s so exciting, I raced on day one and then I had three days off to wait until my main event on day five, so to be able to get in there and get the job done is incredibly exciting,” she said moments after her victory.

“I’ve been training really hard and I knew that I was capable of doing it, I was slightly off my PB so I’m a bit annoyed about that, but at the end of the day it’s about who can get their hand first on the wall and I was able to do that, so I’m really proud of myself.”

Afterwards it was clear that Shaw had enjoyed the final, as she said:

“That was crazy. It was such a great race. Obviously to have the likes of Lakeisha (Patterson), Ellie Cole, Nuria (Marques Soto) in the same race it was just really exciting. I could only see Ellie on a few turns but I was trying not to look too much as I knew that would slow me down. Having someone like Lakeisha there pushes you on to go faster and it motivates you.”

Men’s 200 IM

Colombia’s Carlos Serrano won his second gold medal of the meet with a new championship record in the SM7 200 IM at 2:31.11 as he just missed the world record of 2:30.72 set in 2016 by Yevhenii Bohodaiko, who was disqualified in the final. Serrano won by almost three full seconds over Israel’s Mark Malyar (2:33.83) and Andrii Trusov (2:35.28) of the Ukraine. South Africa’s Christian Sadie (2:38.35) broke the African record in finishing fourth place.

Ihar Boki of Belarus won the SM13 200 IM final with a 2:05.04 as he added another gold medal to his collection this week in London. Alex Portal (2:12.14) of France was well back in second place as Kyrylo Garashchenko (2:12.24) of the Ukraine won the bronze.

Canada’s Nicolas-Guy Turbide broke the Americas record in placing fifth at 2:14.86.

Women’s 200 IM

The United States went 1-2 in the SM7 200 IM final as Julia Gaffney (2:55.98) collected the gold ahead of Mallory Weggemann (2:56.00), who won the silver. Weggemann still holds the world record with a 2:48.43 from 2010. Canada’s Tess Routliffe won the bronze medal for an All-North American podium as she won the bronze at 2:58.06. Ahayla Lettenberger could not finish the US 1-2-3 as she was fourth at 3:03.90.

“I’m a world champion now,” Gaffney said. “It feels really good. I’ve fought really hard for this moment and I’m super glad I was able to get the gold for Team USA. I’m stoked.”

In a race that came down to the very, very end, Italy’s Carlotta Gilli (2:24.46) won the SM13 200 IM with a new championship record. She just held off USA’s Becca Meyers, who actually broke the world record in the SM12 classification, but she ended up with the silver. Meyers swam a 2:24.56 to take down the world record of 2:24.86 from Daria Pikalova from 2015. This is her second world record of the meet. Russia’s Daria Lukyanenko (2:27.91) won the bronze medal.

“I can’t believe I’ve set two world records,” Meyers said. “It feels amazing. My hard work has paid off, especially after making a huge coaching change. I’m really excited. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me as I train for Tokyo 2020.

Men’s 100 Fly

Maksym Krypak of the Ukraine just missed the world record in the S10 100 fly as he broke the championship record with a 54.83. Krypak just missed the world record of 54.71 held by fellow Ukrainian Denys Dubrov from 2016. Krypak had a good race with Italy’s Stefano Raimondi (55.31), who won the silver. Australia’s Col Pearse won the bronze medal with a new Oceania record of 58.60.

Grinning from ear to ear, Pearse was almost lost for words post-race.

“I can’t really believe it, honestly, I didn’t come into this final expecting a medal, I was just expecting a fourth or fifth or a really good PB, but I got the full package, a PB and a bronze – I’m just so stoked.

“In the heat I went out a bit hard so in the final I wanted to take it easy in the first 50m and bring it home in the last. When I looked up, I was just shocked – I’m so shocked I don’t know what to feel right now,” he exclaimed.

Women’s 100 Fly

USA’s Mikaela Jenkins won the second gold medal for the Americans on Friday night as she won the S10 100 fly with a 1:07.07. Jenkins was involved in another tough race with the top five swimmers separated by less than a second as Italy’s Alessia Scortechini (1:07.46) won the silver and Australia’s Jasmine Greenwood (1:07.69) won the bronze.

“I can’t believe it, honestly,” Jenkins said. “I really, really wanted gold. Really badly. I have worked really hard for this, so I’m very happy. This is pure excitement that is throbbing through me.”

Delighted by the result, the humble Greenwood was still letting the good news sink in.

“It feels amazing, I wasn’t expecting a medal – a PB is good and so to get a medal on top of that is just amazing,” she said.

“I knew I was in the mix but didn’t know what place I had gotten, and then I looked at the board and was so just excited.”

China’s Chen Yi and Poland’s Oliwia Jablonska were among the swimmers fighting for the medals as they tied for fourth at 1:07.80.

Men’s 50 Free

Greece’s Dimosthenis Michalentzakis won the S8 50 free final with a 26.54 as he was also in a good race with China’s Yang Guanglong (26.81) and Australia’s Ben Popham (26.94). This was Popham’s second medal of the championships.

Colombia’s Nelson Crispin picked up another gold for himself and Colombia in the S6 50 free as he won the gold with a 29.19 for a new championship record. He finished ahead of Italy’s Antonio Fantin (29.92), who broke the European record in getting under 30 seconds for the silver. France’s Laurent Chardard (30.74) won the bronze medal.

New Zealand’s Cameron Leslie broke the only individual men’s world record of the night as he won the S4 50 free with a 37.14 to take down the old world record of 37.54 from Japan’s Yuji Hanada set all the way back in 2004. Takayuki Suzuki almost broke the world record as well for the silver as he was a 37.56 for the Japanese team. Russia’s Roman Zhdanov (39.14) won the bronze medal as the third and final swimmer under 40 seconds in the final.

Women’s 50 Free

Great Britain’s Alice Tai is making a claim for swimmer of the championships as she won her fifth gold with a 29.55 in the S8 50 free. Tai broke the championship record as she was the only swimmer under 30 seconds in the final. She missed her own world record of 28.97 that she set earlier this year but it was still good enough for the win. Brazil’s Cecilia Jeronimo won the silver with a new Americas record of 30.45 ahead of France’s Claire Supiot (30.54) for the bronze.

Afterwards Tai struggled to put it into words:

“I don’t really know how I’m feeling right now, I’m equally as tired as I am happy, it’s like I’m dreaming. I think today, after the 400 yesterday, I was really hit with fatigue. I’ve the IM tomorrow, which is probably one of the hardest events for me and I’ll be happy to finish that race!”

When asked about inspiring the next generation, Tai added:

“There’s a little girl in the crowd who wished me good luck as I was walking to the venue and she was like, ‘it worked’, so that’s awesome. Not so long ago I was one of those kids looking up to people so to think that I can now motivate and inspire the next generation, and maybe in Paris we’ll see them come through.”

Yelyzaveta Mereshko of the Ukraine won the S6 50 free final with a 32.94 as she broke the championship record and missed her own world record of 32.78 from last year. She went 1-2 with fellow Ukrainian Viktoriia Savtsova (33.35) as China’s Jiang Yuyan (33.53) won the bronze with a new Asian record.

Egypt’s Ayaallah Tewfick (37.49) broke the African record with a seventh place finish.

Italy’s Arjola Trimi won the S4 50 free final with a 40.02 as she just touched out Australia’s Rachael Watson (40.62). China’s Peng Qiuping (42.22) broke the Asian record in winning the bronze medal.

“It’s really amazing, I came here for a good result and I got that so I’m happy,” Watson said.

“To hear the Aussies in the crowd and know that all of Australia is behind you and rooting for you is such a good feeling.”

Men’s 100 Free

Yaroslav Denysenko (52.02) and Maksym Veraksa (52.66) added a second 1-2 finish for the Ukrainian team as they went 1-2 in the S12 100 free final. Azerbaijan’s Raman Salei (52.99) won the bronze medal.

Australia’s Braedan Jason finished in sixth with a new Oceania record of 53.86.

China’s Hua Dongdong touched first in the S11 100 free final with a 57.43 as he was in a good race with Russia’s Kirill Belousov (57.84), who won the silver. Brazil’s Wendell Belarmino was the third swimmer to break a minute as he won the bronze with a 59.09.

Women’s 100 Free

Brazil’s Maria Gomes and Russia’s Anna Krivshina were the only two to break a minute in the S12 100 free final as Gomes came out on top with a 59.66 while Krivshina was second at 59.81. USA’s Becca Meyers made a quick recovery from her world record in the 200 IM for a bronze in the 100 free with a 1:00.72.

Liesette Bruinsma of the Netherlands won the S11 100 free final as she swam a 1:07.26 to win the gold medal. She missed her own world record of 1:05.14 but she still won the gold ahead of Maryna Piddubna (1:07.92) of the Ukraine. China’s Li Guizhi (1:08.30) finished with the bronze medal.

Men’s 50 Back

Russia’s Alexander Makarov (56.70) won the S2 50 back final as he won by two seconds over silver medal winner Jacek Czech (58.82) of Poland. Makarov’s Russian teammate Vladimir Danilenko (1:00.18) won the bronze medal.

Women’s 50 Back

Singapore’s Yip Pin Xiu won the S2 50 back final with a 1:04.43 as she was well in front of the rest of the field in winning. Italy’s Angela Procida (1:13.98) won the silver medal while Canada’s Aly van Wyck-Smart (1:17.76) broke the Americas record for the bronze.

Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay

Russia won the men’s 34pts medley relay as the team of Bogdan Mozgovoi (1:02.59), Andrei Kalina (1:07.75), Alexander Skaliukh (1:00.62) and Andrei Nikolaev (58.22) won the gold medal with a 4:09.16. Italy (4:10.26) and China (4:18.02) finished with the silver and the bronze.

Women’s 4×100 Medley Relay

The Brits had a relatively quiet night on day five of the World Para  Swimming Championships in London but the team of Alice TaiBrock WhistonToni Shaw and Stephanie Millward won the gold in the medley relay with a new world record of 4:36.31. Tai (1:09.28), Whiston (1:13.82), Shaw (1:08.12) and Millward (1:05.09) smashed the old world record by nearly nine seconds as the old record of 4:45.23 stood for three years after Great Britain set it at the 2016 Paralympics. The United States finished in second at 4:58.39 while Spain was third at 5:00.51.

Tai claimed her sixth gold medal of the championships.