British Paralympic swimmers get European campaign off to strong start
Eleanor Simmonds and Matt Whorwood both win Medals in Iceland on day one.
The GB Disability Swimming team, featuring many Paralympians, competing at the IPC Swimming European Championships in Reykjavik enjoyed success on day one of competition. Double Paralympic bronze medalist Matt Whorwood won bronze in the men’s S6 400m Freestyle after putting in a strong performance to lower the British record through the race. Matt got an excellent start and looked on course to break the British record early on. At the 100m mark he lay in third place and although he faced an early challenge from Germany’s Swen Michaelis he proved too strong and drew out his lead. Anders Olsson had the gold medal sealed at 150m and so the battle was on for second place Matt took on Ireland’s Darragh McDonald. At the finish McDonald that took the silver after touching in 5:15.07 while Matt took bronze with a new record time of 5:16.67.
Matt said “It was nice to get a new personal best this is my first major meet with my new coach Billy Pye and it was good to see how we worked here. I went into the final ranked in third place and won bronze with a new British record there isn’t much more I can ask for. I did feel close to second but he just had a bit more than me. But it is still early into our cycle for 2012 and I won the first medal for the team which is great.”
Double Paralympic Champion Eleanor Simmonds dominated the final of the women’s S6 400m Freestyle as she won her first European title. Eleanor lay down a marker to the rest of the heats as she took charge of her heat after putting in a good performance. Paralympic medalists Natalie Jones and Nyree Lewis also secured their places in the final after swimming strongly in their heats.
In the final, Eleanor went out quickly and she looked strong throughout the race Natalie Jones was on her shoulder for the first 50m but Eleanor got into her rhythm and took the lead over her team-mate. At the 100m mark, Eleanor and Jones lay in one and two and Lewis lay in fourth place but at the finish Ellie touched home in a time of 5:37.31 to win the gold medal and secure her first European title.
“I am really happy to have the title and the gold medal, but I did want to go faster in my final because I felt really good in my heat this morning. I did know I was in the lead and I race better when I have someone pushing me along but it was good to win the race by that much.”
To sum up the first day of competition Head Coach Lars Humer said: “That has been a good day for us. Medal-wise we got as many as we would have expected because of the rankings. But more importantly we were seeing a lot of personal bests and season bests, it is great to have a first day like this. The team will take a lot away from the day and after seeing great races like Matt Whorwood’s which was such a close race I know it will install a lot of confidence in the team.”
Follow this link to see Eleanor’s 50m Race