On the closing day of competition at the Paralympic Swimming World Championships in Glasgow three of Ireland’s four swimmers in action have qualified for finals in their respective events. Nicole Turner, Ellen Keane and James Scully will all be racing tonight, with Keane and Turner setting new lifetime bests in their heats.
Thirteen year old Nicole Turner was first to progress to a final. Turner, who is a member of the Laois Marlins club set a new lifetime best in the first heat of the Women’s 100m Freestyle S6; 1:21.38, taking two seconds off her previous best. The second heat was won in a new world record of 1:12.36 by Ukraine’s Yelyzaveta Mereshko, which sees Turner line up seventh fastest for the final.
Twenty year old Ellen Keane then swam impressively to finish second in the first heat of the SM9 200m Individual Medley setting a new lifetime best of 2:40.53 in the process. Great Britain’s Tully Kearney won the heat in a new European record of 2:32.94. China’s Ping Lin was just 0.2 of a second behind Keane in qualifying. The leading swimmers in the second heat seemed to just do enough to secure qualifying and instead save something for what is set to be a thrilling final tonight at 7.31pm.
James Scully, who produced a 50m Freestyle PB yesterday placed fourth in the second heat of the 100m Freestyle in the S5class in 1:22.17. That mark sees him lying seventh fastest for tonight’s final, where he will be hoping to improve on that time.
Bronze medallist on the opening day in the 400m Freestyle Darragh McDonald was first into the pool for the Irish this morning. The UCD student finished fifth in his S6 100m Freestyle heat in 1:13.41 which saw him miss out on a place in the final by one spot; finishing 9th overall. Afterwards however it emerged the twenty one year old had suffered a grade one tear of his pectoralis major muscle during the race which should see him side-lined for about three weeks.
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.