Great Britain Wins Three Gold Medals on First Night of World Para Swimming Championships in London

Alice Tai
Photo Courtesy: British Swimming

The first night of the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships concluded with five world records falling from the London Aquatic Centre. Jiang YuyanBecca MyersAndrei GranichkaSimone Barlaam and Reece Dunn each broke world records on night one as the Brits also won three gold medals for the British crowd.

Men’s 400 Free

Antonio Fantin won the S6 400 free to start off the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships with a 5:00.67 as he was well in front of Russia’s Andrei Granichka (5:08.26). Ihar Boki won the S13 race in the 400 free with a 3:57.90 as he won ahead of Kyrylo Garashchenko (4:01.67).

Women’s 400 Free

Jiang Yuyan of China broke the first world record in the 400 free at the World Para Swimming Championships with a 5:13.32 in the S6 400 free to lower Yelyzaveta Mereshko’s world record of 5:14.69. Mereshko finished second in the race at 5:17.49. Great Britain’s Ellie Simonds won the bronze medal at 5:21.78, adding on to her bronze from Rio in the event. This was Great Britain’s first medal of the championships as the hosts of the event.

“I knew it was going to be a fast time,” Simonds said. “This morning was a really good swim; training has been going really well and I was nice and relaxed. It was a bit slower tonight than I had expected, I don’t know why, it was really hard swimming but I just went in wanting to enjoy it, get in there and race and I’m happy to come away with a medal.”

In the S12 400 free later in the session, USA’s Becca Myers broke another world record with a 4:22.34, lowering her own S13 record of 4:24.30 from last year. She also holds the S13 world record at 4:19.59 from the 2016 Paralympics. Anna Stetsenko (4:23.75) won the silver medal ahead of Italy’s Carlotta Gilli (4:29.17).

“I feel amazing right now, I can’t even put it into words,” Myers said. “It’s so surreal to be back on the podium, especially after London 2012 where I won my first international Paralympic medal. I’m excited to be back up there again, reliving some memories and creating some new ones. The 400 free is my favorite event.

Men’s 100 Breast

Russia’s Dmitrii Cherniaev broke the European record in the SB4 100 breast with a 1:36.20 as he won ahead of Colombia’s Moises Fuentes Garcia (1:37.45), who is 44 years old.

Later in the session, Russia’s Andrei Granichka (1:27.15) broke the world record in the SB5 classification, lowering the old record from 1:28.57. China’s Li Junsheng (1:28.80) won the silver medal with a new Asian record.

Women’s 100 Breast

Fanni Illes won the SB4 final with a 1:46.92 well in front of Italy’s Giulia Ghiretti (1:50.50) and China’s Cheng Jiao (1:54.47), who broke the Asian record in the process.

Yelyzaveta Mereshko won the SB5 category with a 1:41.32 as she won over Germany’s Verena Schott (1:43.11).

Men’s 100 Free

Dimosthenis Michalentzakis won the S8 100 free final with a 57.69 as he won just over Australia’s Ben Popham (57.89).

“Still smiling…..” said Popham when asked how he was feeling hours after his stunning silver medal performance.

The Cerebral Palsy (CP) sufferer who started swimming at the age of seven as part of his physiotherapy treatment burst onto the international stage with a two-gold medal debut at last year’s Para Pan Pacs in Cairns.

But another 12 months under Redmond’s astute coaching and Popham has continued his climb up the international swimming calendar, with next year’s 2020 Paralympics now very much on the sporting horizon for the Curtin University Bachelor of Commerce student.

Italy’s Simone Barlaam won the S9 100 free with a new world record at 54.10 as he lowered Rowan Crothers’ world record of 54.18 from 2014. Russia’s Denis Tarasov (56.34) was well back for the silver medal.

Women’s 100 Free

Alice Tai gave the British crowd something to cheer about when she won the 100 free at 1:03.77 in the S8 category. USA’s Jessica Long picked up another medal to her collection with a 1:06.08 for the silver medal. Tai just missed her world record of 1:03.66.

Afterwards a naturally delighted Tai said:

“I’m pretty ecstatic. The swim was a little bit slower than I hoped for and I messed up my turn but I’m really happy to come away with gold. Looking ahead, Tokyo is always the big one so it will be nice to take what I’ve done here and progress that and hopefully swim faster there.

“I love swimming here in front of a home crowd so much. It’s strange as my family are sitting right in front of where we exit the pool so as soon as I finished the race and I was getting out I could see them cheering.”

New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe won the S9 100 free later in the session with a 1:00.20 to just miss her own world record of 59.78. She won the final ahead of Spain’s Sarai Gascon (1:02.90) and Great Britain’s Toni Shaw (1:03.00).

“I think it’s really exciting to kick start it off with a gold, I definitely would have like to have sub-minuted again, but it was a gold medal swim, I gave it everything and just really stoked to start the meet off like that,” Pascoe said.

“It’s one of the best venues I’ve ever swam in, as soon as I had my first warm up the other day it was how it felt 7 years ago so it hasn’t changed, it’s a fast pool, the complex is great, the atmosphere is great and the people are awesome, it’s great to be back here with the New Zealand team.”

The win marks Pascoes 9th World Title and will now go on to try and do the same in the 100m Backstroke tomorrow followed by one of her key events the 100m Butterfly and then finishing off with the ‘splash and dash’ the 50m Freestyle

“I’m really looking forward to my meet, I have watered down my programme for a lot of reasons, but it’s about focusing on Tokyo and getting the slots here at world championships for those events.”

Men’s 200 Free

Reece Dunn continued the British domination on night one with a 1:52.96 in the 200 free to break his own world record of 1:53.57. He went 1-2-3 with fellow Brits Thomas Hamer (1:55.19) and Jordan Catchpole (1:56.23).

“I went into that final with a massive attitude and was just trying to improve on the time from Berlin a few months ago,” Dunn said. “I’m training alongside some big guys now and my training regime has probably doubled in terms of metres and I’ve moved from sprints to mid-distance, which helps with my 200 a lot more. It was important to make a big impression at my first major international with the team.”

“It’s pretty incredible getting a one-two-three with my teammates, so it’s very special. I’ve had a rollercoaster year, but I’ll knuckle down now, and the big one is Tokyo”

Catchpole added:

“I was just fighting the whole way and the Australians were so close to me – they touched me out in the heat and I wasn’t going to let them do that again. I thought you’re not ruining this one-two-three for the lads!”

Women’s 200 Free

Russia’s Valeriia Shabalina (2:02.28) won the 200 free final on Monday night in London with a 2:02.28, just missing the world record by Bethany Firth of 2:02.09. Firth was second here at 2:06.18 while fellow Brit Jessica Applegate (2:06.27) was third.

Men’s 50 Free

Wendell Belarmino won the S11 50 free final with a 26.20 as he won in a tight finish over Russia’s Kirill Belousov (26.25) and China’s Hua Dongdong (26.47).

In the S10 50 free, Stefano Raimondi won the gold with a 23.63 in a tight finish ahead of Phelipe Rodrigues (23.71) of Brazil and Rowan Crothers (23.72) of Australia.

“I’m super stoked with that swim, it’s not quite a PB, just a little bit off, but I’m really focusing on the process of how I’m swimming it, and it felt good so I’m happy,” Crothers said post-race.

“I’ve done a lot of hard, consistent training back home and over the past few months I’ve really upped my commitment and really just going all in and it’s paying off.”

Women’s 50 Free

Maryna Piddubna won the second gold for the Ukrainians with a 30.34 in the S11 50 free as Liesette Bruinsma (30.47) of the Netherlands won the silver medal in a very close finish. China’s Li Guizhi (30.70) won the bronze medal with a new Asian record.

Great Britain’s Tully Kearney (36.28) and Suzanna Hext (37.13) went 1-2 in the S5 50 free.

Kearney said of her performance:

“I’m speechless. I’ve been through so much in my career and in my journey as an athlete, with multiple injuries, health issues and there have been so many times when I didn’t think I’d make it. I’ve been out the pool more than I’ve trained this season, so it’s absolutely amazing to do that in front of a home crowd.”

Speaking about finding the mental strength to overcome her injuries, Kearney continued,

“I absolutely love racing and I couldn’t wait to get out here and enjoy the excitement of racing and the thought of doing that has really spurred me on. I’ve been through so much, I didn’t want to feel a failure and I wanted to get out and be able to thank everyone who have supported me this season. I dug in that extra bit and just wanted to win.”

Canada’s Aurelie Rivard won the S10 50 free final with a 27.86 as she missed her own world record of 27.37. Great Britain’s Zara Mullooly (28.22) was second ahead of Chantalle Zijderveld (28.25) of the Netherlands.

“I feel old. I’m treated like a senior citizen on this team,” joked the 23-year-old Rivard from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., who trains at Montreal’s High Performance Centre – Quebec with coach Mike Thompson. “It’s amazing to think it’s been almost 10 years since my first world championships.”

“It’s a good start on the medal front. It was a much tighter race than I had anticipated, but I’m obviously very happy I won,” said Rivard, who led the final from start to finish but was challenged by crowd favourite Zara Mullooly of Great Britain, who took silver in 28.22. “I look forward to watching the race again and talk with my coaches to see what happened compared to this morning. I think this morning, I was more relaxed, less tense. I didn’t necessarily expect to swim so fast this morning, while tonight my expectations were obviously much higher.

“All in all I’m very pleased. It was an emotional night for me, swimming in the pool where I had my big breakthrough at the 2012 Games. It brought back good memories.”

Men’s 100 Back

Ukraine’s Yaroslav Denysenko won the S12 100 back final with a 59.40 to just miss the world record of 59.35. Azerbaijan’s Raman Selei (1:01.00) won the first medal of the meet for Azerbaijan in second place while Russia’s Roman Makarov (1:01.70) won the bronze medal.

Women’s 100 Back

Russia’s Anna Krivshina took care of business in the S12 100 back final with a 1:07.55 as she won by over four seconds ahead of Brazil’s Maria Gomes (1:11.44) and Spain’s Maria Delgado (1:11.55).

Men’s 50 Breast

Brazil’s Daniel Dias broke the Americas record in the S5 50 breast with a 31.83 as he won the gold medal over Italy’s Francesco Bocciardo (32.89).

Mexico’s Arnulfo Castorena won the SB2 50 breast final with a 57.24 as he won by three seconds over Australia’s Grant Patterson (1:00.76), who broke the Oceania record.

“It was good, I had a good heats swim and then the final went a bit faster tonight, so it was a great swim and I’m happy with a silver medal,” Patterson said.

“It’s a great feeling to represent my country and come back here and win a medal.”

Men’s 50 Fly

USA’s Evan Austin won the 50 fly final at 29.71 as he barely won ahead of Yevhenii Bohodaiko of the Ukraine (29.95) and Carlos Serrano (29.96) of Colombia.

Women’s 50 Fly

Mallory Weggemann went 1-2 in the S7 50 fly with fellow American teammate Julia Gaffney (35.67) as Weggemann was off her world record of 33.81 from 2012.

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