In the busiest day so far for the Irish team at the Paralympic Swimming World Championships three of the five swimmers in action qualified for tonight’s final, with lifetime best times also for three of them.
Continuing an outstanding debut Nicole Turner swam an enormous lifetime best in the heats of the SM6 200m Individual Medley. The thirteen year is on a real upward curve making typically huge gains at this early stage of her swimming career. She took over sixteen seconds off her previous best set earlier this year when finishing third in her heat today in 3:27.35 seeing her go into this evening’s final seventh fastest.
Fellow teenager Ailbhe Kelly swam brilliantly in the sole heat of the S8 Women’s 400m Freestyle. The Dubliner, also making her World Championship debut, similarly swam a massive lifetime best of 5:37.45; knocking over five and a half seconds off her previous best mark. Although not enough to make it to the final of this incredibly competitive class Kelly’s performance is of real significance as it is also inside the Minimum Qualifying Standard (MQS) for Rio 2016. She races again tomorrow in her main event; the 100m Backstroke.
London Paralympian Ellen Keane was the second Irish swimmer of the morning to book a place in an evening final. She placed fourth in her heat of the S9 100m Butterfly in 1:12.80 to snatch the last spot in the final. The twenty year old will be hoping to improve on that time in this evening’s final at 6.45pm.
Fellow London 2012 Paralympian James Scully raced in the second heat of the S5 Men’s 50m Freestyle. Also a team mate of Keane and Kelly at the National Aquatic Centre swim club, Scully put in a lifetime best performance of 38 seconds flat to take the last spot in tonight’s final; eighth fastest.
First into the pool for the Irish this morning was Killaloe’s Jonathan McGrath in the heats of the S8 Men’s 400m Freestyle. McGrath finished his heat fifth in a time of 4:53.34; not enough for a place in the final but instead tenth overall. McGrath will race again tomorrow in the heats of the 100m Backstroke.
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.