Five time Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds was back with a bang as she came within a fraction of her own British record to take World Para Swimming World Series gold in Glasgow.
Having taken a break from the sport in 2017, Simmonds, who swims in the S6 category, proved tonight that she is back to her very best ahead of a home World Championships in September and Tokyo 2020 in just over a year’s time.
Setting her stall out with an aggressive opening 200m, Simmonds was out to better the consideration time set by British Para-Swimming to secure herself a spot on the London 2019 team, having just missed out in the heats. That she did, going inside 5.20 with a 5.19.27 time, just half a second outside her own British record.
That time was worth an impressive 957 points, ensuring she took gold in the multi-class Women’s 400m Freestyle, edging out S10 Paralympic champion Aurelie Rivard of Canada, with Poland’s S10 Oliwia Jablonska landing bronze. Just outside the medals was Maisie Summers-Newton, fourth with 899 points, a good return after her world record swim last night.
Post-race, an emotional Simmonds said:
“It feels amazing. To go 5.19, nearly a personal best after having a year off from the sport, when my aim for this meet was just to qualify for London - I want to cry! I’m so emotional and so happy.
“I wanted it so badly in my heart - I want to go to the World Champs and I wanted to do it for everyone who supports me. To have the World Champs in my home pool, where I train each and every day and to hopefully get picked for the team now and to represent Great Britain at another World Championships, I’m so excited.”
Another S6 in exceptional form was Northampton Swimming Club’s Ellie Robinson, the Paralympic champion in this event showing her class. Contesting the Women’s MC 50m Butterfly, the opening event on the second night of action, Robinson blew away her competition with an impressive 36.20 swim, good for 920 points and importantly inside the British Para-Swimming consideration time for the World Championships
Of her swim Robinson said:
“It’s reassuring to know that I swam the qualifying time for World’s. I would have liked to have gone a little bit faster, as I guess athletes’ are never really happy with their performances – they always see faults and where they can get better.
“Going into competitions I always have a few nerves but when I’m in the call room I don’t really have those doubts any more. I get my headphones on and it gives me that confidence when I’m listening to my music.
“I’m quite relieved as when we were doing all the promotion for London I was like ‘gosh, I’ve got to qualify now’! But I’m really, really excited to have a home championships and it’s actually my first World Championships.”
After breaking the S3 European record this morning Ellie Challis returned to the Tollcross pool to lower it yet further as she touched in 1.01.49, knocking another quarter of a second off that European and British best. That swim bagged the Colchester Phoenix athlete 755 points, ensuring she goes home with World Series silver, with Ireland’s Nicole Turner picking up bronze.
In the Men’s MC 50m Butterfly Arnost Petracek, the S4 swimmer from the Czech Republic, improved on his heat swim to take gold with 946 points, getting the better of the USA’s S7 Evan Austin and Colombia’s S6 Nelson Crispin. Andrew Mullen was the first Brit home in sixth place.
Great Britain enjoyed a great night in the pool, with Mikey Jones adding to the gold medal success in the Men’s MC 400m Freestyle. Having bettered the London 2019 consideration time to qualify fastest this morning, the National Performance Centre swimmer once again proved to be the class act in the field, as a 4.50.56 swim, just a second slower than this morning, scored him 886 points. That pushed Bus Takken of the Netherlands into silver, with GB’s Lewis White bagging bronze. Returning to top class competition for the first time since reclassification to an S9, Ollie Hynd just missed out on a medal in fourth.
Jessica-Jane Applegate and Louise Fiddes secured a GB 1-2 in the Women’s MC 200m Freestyle in a race that came down to the wire. Neck and neck throughout, it was the London 2012 Paralympic champion who would prevail, stopping the clock at 2.07.35 to 2018 World Series champion Fiddes’ 2.07.68. That rewarded the pair with 881 and 874 points respectively but even more importantly they both secured the consideration time for September’s global championships, with Fiddes setting a personal best.
Commenting on a thrilling race, Applegate said:
“That has given me a huge boost as I was doubting myself in the 200 – I’ve not PB’d for four years in this event, so getting back down close to my PB I’m really happy. If I can take away what I need to work on then hopefully I’ll beat it again one day – I’m not giving up until I beat it!”
Rounding out the evening in Glasgow was the Men’s MC 200m Freestyle, where Jordan Catchpole edged out Japan’s Takayuki Suzuki for gold. Given the multi-class nature, Catchpole, who is an S14 found that his closest challenger was S4 Suzuki, the duo having extremely different impairments. Despite all of that though, the pair were separated by a mere 17 points.
Live results from Glasgow are available on British Swimming’s website here and you can catch all the action on the live stream, which resumes at 9.30am on Saturday morning, via Facebook or the British Swimming YouTube channel.
Tickets are still available at the venue in Glasgow.