Challis claims European backstroke crown

24 Apr 2024

Ellie Challis clinched her maiden European title while Maisie Summers-Newton and Eliza Humphrey boosted Britain's medal tally further on the fourth day of action at the European Para-Swimming Championships in Madeira. 

In the same pool that brought her her first World Championship gold in 2022 in the Women's SB2 50m Breaststroke, Ellie powered down one length again to secure European gold in the S3 50m Backstroke, her high stroke rate moving her clear of the field over the second 25m to touch for the crown in style.

The result continued an impressive record of Challis making the podium in that event at every major international since her debut at Worlds in 2019, including Paralympic silver in 2021. And as for being back in the Madeira pool that brought her her first taste of global gold, the 20-year-old is loving every moment.

"It's such a special moment to come back here. I had such a great time racing here last time in 2022 and I raced well then. The pool is lovely and I've raced well this time as well, so hopefully that continues through this week," she said.

"It's so special to be here, it's been a great meet so far and hopefully that continues." 

Earlier in the night, Summers-Newton followed up her SM6 200m Individual Medley gold on day three with silver over the S6 400m Freestyle, at the end of an intriguing contest alongside Switzerland's Nora Meister. 

Maisie paced her swim well and matched Meister, alongside her in the central lanes, for much of the opening 300m, before the Swiss athlete just moved clear down the final lap and a half to take gold, with double Paralympic champion Summers-Newton coming in right behind to claim silver and add to her ever-increasing career tally of international medals.

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

"After two consecutive days of racing, I think that was a really decent swim to be honest - it was faster than my 400m Freestyle two weeks ago at the Aquatics GB Swimming Championships, so that shows great progress," said Maisie.

"Like I said on Tuesday, it definitely helps racing alongside these girls, but it was definitely a bit tiring today, so I've got a day off tomorrow before my 100m Breaststroke on Friday, which is another of my main events, so I'm really looking forward to that. I'm super pleased with today." 

In the battle for bronze, Grace Harvey was involved the whole way, matching Germany's Verena Schott and staying just ahead until the final strokes, ultimately missing out on the podium by an agonising 0.01s. 

Completing a gold-silver-bronze medal haul for GB on Thursday was Summers-Newton's Northampton Swimming Club teammate Eliza Humphrey, who secured her first European silverware with bronze in the SM11 200m Individual Medley.

Eliza was just outside the medal placings for much of the race as she went through the strokes, but a strong 50m of breaststroke brought her right into contention, before a powerful finish on the freestyle moved her past the athlete in third as she swam clear for the bronze.

The other British swimmers in action on Wednesday were Bruce Dee and Tomas Navarro-Barber. Bruce, a European medallist from the 200m Individual Medley earlier in the meet, just missed out on another podium as he placed fourth in the Men's S6 400m Freestyle, while Tomas contested the S9 100m Freestyle showpiece, touching fifth.

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

Eliza Humphrey Medley Bronze [Madeira 2024]
Eliza Humphrey after claiming SM11 200m Individual Medley bronze