Both of Ireland’s swimmers in action tonight at the Paralympic Swimming World Championships in Glasgow finished sixth in their respective finals.
London 2012 Paralympian James Scully produced another season’s best performance in the final of the S5 200m Freestyle to finish in sixth place in a time of 2:53.77. Qualifying seventh fastest for the final the National Aquatic Centre (NAC) club swimmer will be pleased to have improved that placing in the final and swam his fastest time of the year.
The S5 class is incredibly competitive and dominated by a leading quartet of reigning Paralympic and world champion Brazilian Daniel Dias, European champion Andrew Mullen of Great Britain, American Roy Perkins and Spaniard Sebastian Rodriguez. As expected Dias blew the race apart storming to gold fractionally outside of world record time in 2:27.28 ahead of Mullen in second (2:41.35) and Perkins in third (2:45.41).
In the last race of the day Laois teenager Nicole Turner swam just off the huge new lifetime best she set in the morning heats when placing sixth in the S6 50m Butterfly final in 40.63. This was Turner’s third final in as many days and her sixth race in total at this her first ever senior championships. Reigning Paralympic champion and world record holder Oskana Khrul of Ukraine took gold in a time of 37.33, with Tiffany Thomas Kane second in 38.17, with Dong Lu of China taking bronze in 38.46.
Speaking afterwards thirteen year old Turner said: “I’m feeling great, I’m really enjoying the competition; to make finals every day so far and PB in each of them! Three more to go!”
Approaching the midway point in the Championships Irish national coach Jim Laverty reflected on how the Irish team are faring so far; “These worlds are providing a very high standard of competition which is giving us a great snapshot of where we sit in terms of our preparations for Rioa. With a number of lifetime bests and six finalists it indicates we are clearly in the zone.”
Four of the six strong Irish team are in action tomorrow. Dublin teenager Ailbhe Kelly makes her debut at a World Championships when she races in the heats of the Women’s 100m Freestyle (S8) at 10.46am. Ellen Keane, Darragh McDonald and Nicole Turner are all in 50m Freestyle action in their respective classes after that, none of whom would see it as their main event but nonetheless will be keen to race well.
These Championships are a key milestone on the road to Rio 2016 Paralympic Games qualification. Swimmers who win gold and silver in their events earn automatic qualification slots for their country. For the others the highest possible finish is vital as the remaining slots are allocated based on world rankings in 2016.
The Irish team is proudly sponsored by Allianz; an official sponsor of Paralympics Ireland.