Stephanie Millward set a new Paralympic record in the pool as ParalympicsGB’s swimmers ensured a strong British representation in tonight’s finals.
Millward, chasing her fourth medal of the Games, stopped the clock in 30.82 seconds in the women’s S8 50m freestyle to qualify fastest for the final, breaking the previous Paralympic record set in 2012 by USA’s Mallory Weggemann.
Her ParalympicsGB teammate Stephanie Slater qualified fifth fastest after finishing second in heat two with a time of 31.17 secs.
Millward, who already has a gold and two bronze medals to her name from Rio, said: “It was a very good swim for me. I don’t normally do it because it’s a short, sharp race and my arms generally don’t move that fast.
“But I did enjoy that. I went into it with a bit of aggression from yesterday’s relay race, I wanted to fight back and get a nice swim in today and that’s exactly what I did.”
Hannah Russell booked herself a middle lane in tonight’s S13 100m freestyle final after qualifying fastest in the heats, just dipping under the minute mark in 59.99 secs.
The 20-year-old, who on Wednesday won S12 100m backstroke gold, said: “Coming into this heat swim off the back of the 100m backstroke, I felt really confident. I wanted to do a strong heat and I managed to do that.
“I’ve definitely got more to offer in the final. I like to do a strong swim but I will go back and hopefully max it for this evening.”
Eight-time European champion Andrew Mullen won his S5 50m backstroke heat, qualifying second fastest for tonight’s final with a time of 37.77 secs, while Josef Craig set the fifth fastest time in the S8 50m freestyle.
Craig, who won 100m freestyle bronze on Sunday, finished second in his heat in 27.36 secs, and said:
“I was pretty relaxed, I didn’t give it everything in the tank, I’ve got more for tonight.
“I’m a bit disappointed with the finish, but nobody remembers who won the heat, everybody remembers who wins the medal.”
In the S9 100m backstroke, James Crisp won his heat in 1:05.00 to qualify joint fastest for the final with Lewis White seventh quickest, while in the women’s equivalent, Amy Marren qualified fourth fastest for the final after finishing second in her heat.
Marren, who has already won 200m individual medley bronze in Rio, said: “I’m not too keen on the time but I went in there knowing it could be the last swim of the meet so I just went and enjoyed it.
“This competition has allowed me to be on the international stage again, and it’s made me realise how lucky I am and how much I do love my sport, I’m so lucky to be one of the best in the world and enjoying it more than anything.”
Elsewhere, Susie Rodgers finished second in the S7 100m freestyle to qualify in fourth for the final, while Jonathan Fox bagged the middle lane in the men’s equivalent with a heat victory, with teammate Michael Jones touching the wall in second position to qualify sixth fastest for the final.
And Stephen Clegg finished fourth in his heat in the S13 100m freestyle but narrowly missed out on a spot in tonight’s final with a time of 55.85 secs.