Britain’s best Para-swimmers descended on Glasgow’s Tollcross International Swimming Centre last weekend to kick off their bids to qualify for this Summer’s IPC Swimming World Championships – and a strong, local squad demonstrated they were more than up for the challenge.
The event was one of the largest Open competitions for Para-swimming and, as a key qualification Meet, it attracted over 300 athletes and teams from 23 nations.
In the Nova Centurion squad, Sutton Swimming Club’s Paralympic World, European and Commonwealth Champion Ollie Hynd MBE secured World qualification times by swimming season’s best times in both the heats and A final of the 400m freestyle, taking the gold medal ahead of Sunderland’s Josef Craig and touching for his second World qualification time and silver medal in the A final of the 200m Individual Medley.
Ollie completed his meet programme with another silver in the A final of the 100m Backstroke.
Following his performance in Glasgow, Ollie has been named in an 18-strong British contingent set to face the Rest of the World back in Glasgow in July.
Despite missing the World qualification time by an agonising five hundredths of a second, named alongside Ollie in the British squad is Nova Centurion and Sherwood Colliery SC’s Paralympic silver medallist Charlotte Henshaw.
Charlotte will compete in her third World Championship competition and brought home the bronze medal in the A final of the 100m breaststroke behind Newcastle’s Bethany Firth, who set a new SB14 100m breaststroke world record in the process. Charlotte also competed in the 200m individual medley.
Fellow Nova Centurion squad member Joseph Schenk, Sutton SC, swam his way into three finals out of the four events he competed in, taking fifth place in the B final of the 100m breaststroke and seventh in the B final of the 200m freestyle.
He also qualified for the B final of the 200m individual medley and placed 17th in the 100m butterfly.
Nova Centurion newcomer Keira Shepherd also secured finals places, taking a gold and first place in the C final of the 50m freestyle and just being pipped out of the medals in the 100m freestyle C final, placing fourth.
Alongside Keira in the Nova Centurion squad, Kimberley SC’s Sophie Woodward, at just 11 years old, qualified for the final of the Women’s MC 50m backstroke, placing sixth, additionally competing in the 50m butterfly.
Bramcote SC’s Ben Foulston represented the Nova Centurion squad in six events, setting new personal best times in the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle and 100m backstroke before recording his best result qualifying for the C final of the 100m butterfly and taking a third place and bronze medal. Ben also competed in the 200m individual medley.
Completing the Nova Centurion squad line-up, Arnold SC’s Ted Smiley competed in the 400m Freestyle and, at just 13 years old, gained valuable competition experience at a senior level.
Sherwood Colliery SC’s Kirsten Pinson (17) competed in five events, improving on her entry times in the 50m and 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 200m individual medley and 100m butterfly.
Nova Centurion coach Glenn Smith said he was ‘unbelievably proud’ of all of the squad’s achievements.
That echoed the national performance director’s comments that the British squad recently announced for the World Championships would have the potential to produce results under pressure in July.