Day four heats of the London 2019 World Para Swimming Allianz Championships saw a European and Championship Record, underlying the prospect of more medals for the Great Britain team from this evening’s finals.
As the first Briton in action during Thursday morning’s heats, Zara Mullooly quickly put any medal and birthday celebrations on hold last night to focus on the Women’s S10 100m Freestyle. Having achieved podium success twice this week already, Mullooly safely secured her place in the final of the event in a season’s best time of 1:01.80.
Mullooly commented on her heat:
“I’m really happy with that for a heat swim. I was quite fast out but nice and steady on the second 50m. I don’t really consider myself as a sprinter but the sprints have gone quite well for me so far - I’ll definitely need to be on my PB to get a medal.”
Rebecca Redfern’s competition finally got underway today in the Women’s SB13 100m Breaststroke. The silver medallist from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games qualified fastest for tonight’s final in a new Championship Record time of 1:16.56.
She said of her performance:
“It’s a good heat swim. I think we hit our process goals going into it so we’ll come back later and see what we can do in the final. I’ve been working a lot on my stroke rate, keeping it up and then holding it. I knew I’d make the final so thought I’d chill on the back end.
“I’ve been watching the team since Monday, so to finally get out I was trying to keep calm and not get too excited. It’s a really good feeling to get the first race under my belt.”
Her main rival for medals tonight comes from Colleen Young (USA) who won bronze in Rio. Talking about her medal chances Redfern said:
“I think it will be between me and Colleen for the gold medal and it will be a good race to watch.”
Swimming two classifications up Ellie Challis swam to a new S3 50m Butterfly European Record in the heats of the S5 event. 15-year old Challis was cheered on to a time of 58.30.
Delighted with the result she said:
“It feels amazing. It’s been my goal to go under a minute. I’ve been so close twice and I’m really shocked. Swimming against classifications up from you is very challenging as sometimes you are basically racing yourself but I do that a lot anyway.”
Speaking about what she is learning from her World Championships experience, Challis said:
“I’ve learned not to worry about what competition you’re at, where you’re at and just focus on your race as you would in your home pool. You should always walk out confident in yourself; if you don’t walk out confident then it won’t happen for you.”
Challis will return to finals later tonight in the Women’s S3 50m Backstroke.
Alice Tai’s hunt for more medals continues as she made it safely through to the Women’s S8 400m Freestyle final with a time of 5:02.48 for her heat. Talking about the prospect of another race against rival Jess Long (USA), Tai said:
“I love racing so, so much. I know Jess went out way faster than me so I’m just excited to take it out with her and stay with her for the race, then have a head to head sprint to the finish. That would be ideal for me. “
Tai has so far raced every day and when asked about whether fatigue was setting in, said:
“Having so many people here is incredible and I love the fact that the event is sold out and the stands are packed most sessions. Training every day, every week I’m used to fatigue, so I’m making the most of the support staff and staying as fresh as possible.”
Speaking about the support from the home crowd, Tai finished by saying:
“It’s incredible and it’s actually really cool. I remember when I went to competitions to cheer on Team GB, I would be chanting ‘Ellie, Ellie’ for Ellie Simmonds, so to have that for me is just so cute. I feel like crying and I’m so honoured to be here spreading awareness of para sport."