On the penultimate day of competition at the Paralympic Swimming World Championships in Glasgow this evening Ireland’s Ailbhe Kelly set a new lifetime best of 1:27.24 finishing eighth in the final of the S8 Women’s 100m Backstroke.
Sixteen year old Kelly, who is a member of the National Aquatic Centre swim club, swam impressively in this her first World Championship final to produce her fastest ever time.
Of the three events Kelly contested at this her debut World Championships she set new lifetime bests in each one of them and hit a Rio 2016 qualifying standard in the 400m Freestyle; a superb return as she sets out on her international swimming career.
Speaking after the final Kelly said: “I’m really happy with that swim. It was a PB and I’m just delighted to have made a final in my first World Championships.”
Irish team manager Hayley Burke added: “That was great stuff from Ailbhe this evening. She did a massive PB only a little earlier in the season but went and bettered that again today. She had a very tough final; as we knew the big players had gone easy in the heat, but she just went out and took it on all the same, and got the result we were after.”
Earlier on London Paralympian Jonathan McGrath, from Killaloe in Co.Clare, raced in the men’s S8 100m Backstroke but placed sixth in a time of 1:17.84 which was not enough to make the final and instead saw him 13th overall.
On the final day of competition tomorrow four of the Irish swimmers will be racing. Bronze medallist on the opening day Darragh McDonald will race in the S6 100m Freestyle. Thirteen year old Nicole Turner raced in five finals this week also contests the 100m Freestyle (S6 Women’s). James Scully who produced a 50m Freestyle PB yesterday will also be racing in the 100m Freestyle in the S5class. Ellen Keane will be concluding her championships in the SM9 200m Individual Medley.
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.