Iona Winnifrith Breaststroke finish [Madeira 2024]

British trio continue European gold rush

23 Apr 2024

Iona Winnifrith (SB7) and Harry Stewart (SB14) delivered 100m Breaststroke victories on the European stage ahead of Maisie Summers-Newton’s emphatic SM6 200m Individual Medley title win.

Teenager Iona Winnifrith’s second gold of the championships and debutant Harry Stewart’s win came in back to back races on Tuesday night, with Bruce Dee later adding a silver medal to the British tally in the Men’s SM6 200m Individual Medley ahead of Maisie Summers-Newton’s golden performance in the respective Women’s event.

In attaining her return trip to the top of the podium in Madeira, Winnifrith produced a lifetime best in the Women’s SB7 100m Breaststroke final to lower her own British record mark to 1:29.91 – a shade outside the current 10 year old European record.

The 13 year-old’s swim speed was evident in making up ground conceded on the start and turn to Neutral Paralympic Athlete, Mariia Pavlova, with Winnifrith edging clearly into the lead down the final 15 metres.

“Yeah it was a really good race – I knew the neutral athlete would be on my tail at all times so I just thought try and keep up with her on the first 50m and then try get away from her as much as possible [on the return length].” said Winnifrith,

“My main goal is to maybe break the world record soon. I’m not far off and I’m still PB’ing a lot so I’ve just got to keep up my training and to try get near that mark would be good.”

Lily Rice meanwhile lined up in lane seven of the final, gaining valuable further exposure to racing on the international stage as she finished in fifth place.

Harry Stewart [Madeira 2024]
Harry Stewart

Opening his account at the European Championships, Harry Stewart marked his British team debut with a strong swim in the Men’s SB14 100m Breaststroke.

Going out well to touch at the halfway mark within two tenths of the Ukrainian, Vasyl Krainyk, in the lane outside him, Stewart put on the burners in the return length to stop the clock almost a second clear of the competition to secure his gold medal.

Preceding Maisie Summer-Newton claiming the third British gold of the night gold, her Northampton club mate, Bruce Dee, claimed his breakthrough moment on the European stage in the Men’s SM6 200m Individual Medley.

Bruce Dee [Madeira 2024]
Bruce Dee

After qualifying for a middle lane with a positive morning heats swim, Dee paced his effort through the first half of the Men's SM6 200m Individual Medley final before closing with strong breaststroke and freestyle legs to earn his silver medal spot on the podium.

Summers-Newton walkout out favourite in the subsequent Women’s SM6 200m Individual Medley contest a duly delivered on her first appearance at a European Championships since Dunlin 2018.

Taking the race out hard under her own world record pace splits, the reigning Paralympic and world champion broke clear of the field on the breaststroke in typical fashion. While just fading back slightly from her lifetime best in final freestyle length, Summers-Newton had already firmly established her position to claim the European crown.

Speaking to World Para Swimming after the race, Summers-Newton said:

“I’m pleased with that, we had our trials two weeks ago and tapered for that meet so at this European’s we’re just training through, working hard around it and so to go the same time there I did in London [at the British Championships] that’s really good consistency.

“It’s so good to race these girls, we only get a few opportunities as para-swimmers to race against people in your classifications so that’s really good preparation for me in the summer.”

Looking ahead to the remainder of the season she added:

“For the rest of the season it’s just training really hard – my training was a little bit mixed about earlier this year because I was finishing off my university course so now it’s literally just focus straight on swimming and that consistency in the pool again.

Maisie Summers-Newton [Madeira 2024]
Maisie Summers-Newton

“Paris, hopefully, I’ve got quite high expectations. It would be amazing to do what I did in Tokyo but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself – the main thing is to go out there and enjoy it and have fun with my racing.”

The closing British action of the night in the pool came from Amber Haycock in the Women’s S10 400m Freestyle, with the 16 year-old placing 7th in the final.

Live streaming is available on the Paralympic Games YouTube, with further event details and results on the World Para Swimming Website.