Top para-swimmers from across the UK take to the pool this weekend (1-2 December). The National Para-Swimming Championships in Manchester will feature stars like Jessica-Jane Applegate, Alice Tai, Ellie Simmonds and Scott Quin.
More than 220 para-swimmers will take part in the long course event organised by Activity Alliance in partnership with British Para-Swimming. Other international medallists include Eleanor Robinson, Andrew Mullen and Thomas Hamer.
This year para-swimmers endured a packed schedule with April’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the World Para-Swimming European Championships in Dublin in August. Many at the Championships have their sights set on Tokyo 2020.
Jessica-Jane Applegate has enjoyed a successful career at all levels of international competition, including three medals at her second Paralympics in Rio. The City of Norwich swimmer competes in the S14 class. Following gold and silver medals in the 100m butterfly and 200m freestyle respectively at the 2018 British Para-Swimming International Meet, Applegate secured her third call-up for a European Championships in Dublin.
She claimed her first European title in a world record time in the S14 100m butterfly as well as three silvers. Then, won another gold as part of the 4x100m freestyle relay.
Ahead of this weekend’s competition, Applegate said: “I haven't taken part in long course racing for a while so I'm a little out of practice. This will be about dusting the cobwebs off and concentrating on my skills, technique - just enjoy myself.
“I'm right in the middle of heavy winter training now so it's not ideal to race for personal best times but great to race for practice under tough conditions. There is some fantastic competition from across Great Britain - younger and faster swimmers coming through every year. But I will only be focussing on what my coach and the clock tells me. I can only control what I do, not anyone else!”
At 19, Alice Tai (Ealing) has won medals at Paralympic, World and European levels. In Dublin this summer for the World Para-Swimming European Championships, she won four gold medals - three individuals in the S10 class and one in the 34pt 4x100m medley relay with the victory sealed in World record time. Earlier in the year, she took gold and silver Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in the 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle respectively.
Many swimmers are thinking about next year’s World Championships. Tai said: “At the moment, we’re still in hard training, heading into the New Year. I’m targeting the trials and then if I’m selected, the World Championships.”
“I always enjoy MC events as I get the opportunity to race. In my backstroke, I’m looking forward to having Hannah Russell in my race. We always push each other in the last few metres!”
Chris Furber, National Performance Director for British Para-Swimming said:
“This is a key event in the British Para-Swimming calendar that allows swimmers to race just prior to Christmas. They can see where they are at after the early season block of training and it is preparation for the trials in April for the World Championship team. It also provides a great opportunity to bring the para-swimming community together from those just starting their journey to Paralympic gold medallists.
“Our ongoing relationship with Activity Alliance in delivering this event is key to ensure that para-swimming is promoted further than just to the para-swimming community and to encourage new participants into the sport.”
Activity Alliance is giving away branded purple water bottles during the event to recognise the #PurpleLightUp campaign. This is to mark International Day for Disabled People, celebrated on 3 December every year, after the United Nations General Assembly introducing it in 1992.
Spectators can buy tickets at the venue on the day. Details are as follows:
Event: National Para-Swimming Championships 2018
Venue: Manchester Aquatics Centre, 2 Booth St East, Manchester, M13 9SS
Dates: Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 December
Saturday: Session one- 9:00am – 12:30pm. Session two- 2:30- 5:00pm
Sunday: Session three- 9:00 am – 12.30pm.