Alice Tai landed two World Para Swimming World Series gold medals on the final night of action in Glasgow, breaking the 50m Freestyle world record in the process.
Kicking off the final session of the 2019 British Para-Swimming International Meet (BPSIM) was the Women’s MC 50m Freestyle, where the Ealing swimmer had set a new world record to qualify for the final. Despite not being thrilled with her start in the heat, Tai had come within a fraction of a second of her personal best, set when she swam in the S10 class, so the writing was on the wall.
Now swimming as an S8, it was clear that her personal best, which came in 2015 at the World Championships held in this very pool, was under threat this evening. With a much better start, the Paralympic medallist ripped down one length of the Tollcross pool to stop the clock in 29.43, bettering both her PB and the world record. The battle for the international medals was a global one with Italy’s S13 Carlotta Gilli Italy scoring 926 points to edge out Canada’s S10 Aurelie Rivard by 12 points.
Doubling back just 20 minutes later for the Women’s MC 100m Butterfly, Tai threatened another world record as she clinched her third gold medal in four days, to lead a British clean sweep of the podium. Pushing hard all the way as she chased competitors in higher classes, Tai touched in 1.08.25, just 0.05 shy of Steph Slater MBE’s S8 world record in that event, securing her 997 points. Jessica-Jane Applegate rounded out her return to form with silver whilst Scotland’s rising star Toni Shaw secured bronze with another strong swim, having broken the British S9 record in qualifying.
A delighted Tai reflected on her week, saying:
“I’m pleased with all of my swims but there’s a whole host me and my coach can take away to work on. I’ve really enjoyed trying out different events and I’ve loved the atmosphere – the whole meet has been exceptional.
“My 50m Freestyle was a PB so I’m over the moon with that and my 100m Fly was just off the world record and I screwed up my turn, so I know there’s more there. I’m looking forward to World’s and hopefully lots of people will come and watch, so the atmosphere will be great.”
Reece Dunn has enjoyed a breakthrough week up in Glasgow, the Plymouth Leander swimmer winning no fewer than three World Series golds, the final one coming in the Men’s MC 100m Butterfly. Finishing well clear of his nearest rival, the S14 swimmer stopped the clock in 55.87 to break another British record and only miss out on a world record by 0.15 of a second. Dunn beat Dai Tokairin of Japan by over a second, with his S14 rival the world record holder in this event, whilst S12 Raman Salei from Azerbaijan won bronze.
On the opening night of action Dunn delivered a world record to secure the 100m Freestyle title, kick-starting what proved to be a great week for the para-swimming newcomer. Summarising his four days in Glasgow Dunn said:
“I’ve had a tough week doing a lot more events than I’d usually do, due to classification, but with the times I’ve done I’m very pleased. I’m very pleased with the final race today, although I’m a little disappointed with that last turn as I stopped moving as I was in a lot of pain, but to get close to that world record and break the British record is quite nice!
Commenting on his world record, Dunn added:
“I’m very pleased with the world record, my first ever one and hopefully next time I swim, either at World’s or in Berlin, I can bring it down a bit further. My standout event of the week was probably the 100m Breaststroke though – it’s probably my worst stroke but technically it was probably the best I’ve ever done. My number one event is probably the 100m Fly though and I’ll look to bring that time down further leading into London and Tokyo next year.”
Another serial record breaker this week was Ellie Challis, the S3 swimmer stepping up to the plate once more as she broke the British Women’s 50m Backstroke record with a 1.01.53 time. Striking gold though was Italy’s Monica Boggioni, the S5 stopping the clock in 45.67, with Challis taking silver and Ines Rodriguez Martinez of Spain the bronze.
Living up to its ‘splash and dash’ nickname, the Men’s MC 50m Freestyle was fast and furious across all three finals, with some closely fought racing. Rounding out a stunning four days in Glasgow, just two hours away from his home in Newcastle, Japan’s Takayuki Suzuki added yet another gold to his haul over the last four days. The S4 swimmer stopped the clock in 38.09, good for 957 points, with Spain’s Jose Mari Alcaraz second and his fellow S9, Leo Lahteenmaki of Finland, getting up for bronze.
Suzuki said afterwards:
“It’s been a blast here in Glasgow; I’ve won five medals, three of them were gold and I also broke a world record, so, it’s been very nice and very good for me. I didn’t expect to break the world record, so yes I was surprised but very happy with it also. My swims this week have given me lots of confidence and I am very excited for the next two years with the Paralympics in my home country.”
The final event of the meet was the Men’s MC 50m Backstroke where Arnost Petracek was delighted to take the title, GB’s Andrew Mullen second and Ivan Fernandez third. S4 Petracek of the Czech Republic swam 44.22 for 834 points to get the better of S5 Mullen’s 757 points, which came courtesy of a 38.18 effort.
Full results from all the action in Glasgow are available on British Swimming’s website here and you can re-watch all the action from the live stream and Deep End Live via the British Swimming YouTube channel.