The World Para Swimming Championships continue with British swimmers on the podium and more titles under their belts. Monday, 13th June, saw Bethany Firth (S14) win her second world title as part of another British gold-silver-bronze combination to produce a memorable start.
Firth’s gold in the Women’s S14 100m Backstroke was backed up by a breakthrough silver medal for Poppy Maskill (S14) and bronze medal for Jessica-Jane Applegate (S14), on a packed evening of action.
To see Britain’s S14 women make a remarkable second podium lockout was special, as Firth defended her 100m Backstroke title. Poppy Maskill, making her senior international debut in the 100m Backstroke, completed her fastest heats swim to push Firth all the way to take the silver, while Applegate produced a consistent race to pick up the bronze.
But it was Firth’s electric opening length that set the tone and showed why she has now won this event at the last five major internationals, dating back to Rio 2016.
Firth, Applegate and Louise Fiddes recorded a gold-silver-bronze combo in Sunday’s 200m Freestyle event.
Bethany Firth said “I’m so happy to go out there and do that swim. I had to focus on myself because Poppy did so well this morning, and she’s definitely going to be one to watch for the future,”.
Firth continues “This has probably been the hardest stroke to get back to [after breaking my foot], because I wasn’t able to do any starts, I wasn’t able to push, with my kick, I wasn’t able to do it, it was all arm. It’s my favourite one and it was probably the hardest to come back into it, so it was really bittersweet. I’m so glad to come here and to get the gold, I’ll come back, put it together and maybe PB next year.
“The girls are really stealing the show here. It’s so good, it shows how dominant we are in the pool.” said Firth.
There was also a trio of Brits in the final of the Men’s S14 100m Backstroke, as there was 24 hours earlier in the 200m Freestyle. On this occasion, Jordan Catchpole placed the highest of the race, taking fifth place, overtaking compatriot Louis Lawlor after the turn. Lawlor was sixth, with Reece Dunn just behind them both in eighth.
The action continued on 14th June, with the SB14 event seeing Scott Quin, Louise Fiddes and Poppy Maskill making their mark. Quin finished strong in the final stages of the men’s race in sixth place, out of medal contention.
Scott Quin said “I did struggle a bit, it was like Peter Pan when he’s trying to find his shadow! Technically I’m feeling good, but there’s just a few things I need to sit down and have a look at.”
Fiddes finished fourth in the women’s contest. Disappointed in this placement, Fiddes said she had suffered through illness and injury during the season, preventing her preparation for this race. However, she went on to explain that the ‘bigger picture’ was to focus on competing in Paris in two years’ time.
Maskill recorded a new personal best of 1:21.97 taking 6th place. She paid tribute to those around her for helping her through the rounds.
Poppy Maskill said “It’s been good for me here because I’ve got people like Louise in my own team. I’m loving being away with the British team and having this sort of unique atmosphere which has really helped me in my performance.”
The excitement didn’t stop there with British swimmers continuing their gold medal haul into Wednesday 15th June.
The victorious quartet and relay powerhouse of Tom Hamer, Bethany Firth, Jessica-Jane Applegate and Reece Dunn took them to the podium once again, replaying their success in Tokyo.
Proud to be back in the Team having recovered from his Tokyo injury, Tom Hamer said, “I think the victory was nice, but it was nice to be here again too. From winning it in 2019, it means a lot. Out of everyone, I had the most faith in Reece. Coming home, he is the best anchor man we could have.”
Reece Dunn, the Plymouth Leander swimmer, finished the race by chasing down the anchor legs of several other nations to take the gold by a comfortable margin.
Reece Dunn said, “That was a good relay, the three other guys did most of the work for me and all I had to do was just catch-up and bring it home. I was focused on how I was going to do it.”
It was veterans Firth and Applegate who swam the second and third legs of the relay. Commenting on the race, Jessica-Jane Applegate said, “It was really good, it’s so amazing to be a part of such a great team. No matter how much of a hard time one of us has, we always seem to bring it back.”
Firth adds this title to a raft of individual successes this week. Commenting on the superb win Bethany Firth said, “It’s so different doing relays than racing individually. It has a different dynamic coming together and it’s so much fun when we can do it.”
The UK Sports Association extends its congratulations to British Swimming all the entire British Team on a tremendous Championships. A special mention to the talented Jessica-Jane Applegate, Jordan Catchpole, Reece Dunn, Louise Fiddes, Bethany Firth, Tom Hamer, Louis Lawlor, Poppy Maskill and Scott Quin as they lead the way in the S14 class.
The Paralympic pathway and Games include events for swimmers with intellectual impairment (S14) in the men’s and women’s 100m butterfly, 100m backstroke, 100m breaststroke, 200m freestyle, 200m individual medley and the 4×100 mixed freestyle relay. The Virtus Global Games includes these and the full list of swimming events as part of the parallel performance pathway.
To catch up on results from the meet so far, click here.