Posted: Fri, 29 Nov 2019 10:00
Manchester plays host this weekend for this weekend's National Para-Swimming Championships. Top para-swimmers are among the start list going for gold in the long course event. They include world champions Alice Tai, Maisie Summers-Newton and Reece Dunn. Competition will be stiff with qualification for the World Para-Swimming Open European Championships team in 2020 on the cards.
More than 230 para-swimmers will compete in the Championships, organised by Activity Alliance in partnership with British Para-Swimming.
September's World Para-Swimming Allianz Championships in London and the World Para-Swimming World Series meant a packed schedule for our para-swimmers. Many at the Championships will have their sights set on Tokyo 2020 too.
There are three types of classification in this para-swimming event - physical (S1-S10), visual (S11-S13) and intellectual (S14).
One of those looking to impress is 20 year old Alice Tai. At the Worlds, she won seven gold medals, including a world record in the Women's S8 100m Backstroke. Earlier in the year, she broke seven world records at the Para-Swimming World Series event in Berlin.
After such an amazing year, Tai tells us what she is hoping to achieve this weekend:
"I'm hoping my performances will be good, especially for where I'm at in the season right now. The event will also give me things to work on going into 2020."
In recent weeks, the Ealing swimmer was named British Swimming's Para-Swimmer of the Year, and Overall British Swimming Athlete of the Year. Last week, she picked up the Sunday Times Disability Sports Woman of the Year award. Tai tells us what her favourite moment has been:
"It has to be racing in front of a home crowd at the world championships. Having all my friends and family come to support me was special too."
Races this weekend will be heat declared wins. Multi class (MC) events have swimmers with a range of impairments, from multiple classifications competing in the same race. They are grouped for heats on their fastest entry time and swimmers are awarded within their class once the heats are over. The winner of the race is not always, who touches the wall first, but the swimmer who posts the fastest time for their classification.
Many competing swimmers will be thinking about Tokyo 2020. Tai told us what her hopes are for the Paralympic year:
"My performances at the worlds in September has given us an idea of where I'm ranked right now. There are a few girls who I know will step up going into Tokyo. I'm actually pretty scared - a few of the races will end up being quite close!
"I'd love to go to Tokyo and just swim times which I'm happy with. How everyone else swims is out of my control. I know if I come away with performances that were well executed, then I couldn't have done better for myself."
Activity Alliance is the leading national charity focussed on disabled people's inclusion in sport and active recreation. The events programme is renowned in working with partners to ensure more disabled people can access opportunities.
Tai's advice to other young disabled people wanting to give sport a go:
"Sport is such a great thing to be involved in, especially for those with an impairment. Socially, you find people who will become life-long friends. As well as learning more about yourself, your mental and physical limit, it keeps you fit and healthy! I honestly don't know what I'd be doing with my life if I hadn't found swimming. You've got nothing to lose from trying a new sport, so you might as well just go at it with all you've got!"
Chris Furber, National Performance Director for British Para-Swimming said:
"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the staff at Activity Alliance for their ongoing commitment to this event and disability swimming. This meet continues to be a vital part of the Para-Swimming competition pathway and this year provides the athletes with exciting long course racing opportunity with less than 300 days to go to the Paralympic Games!"
Spectators can buy tickets at the venue on the day. Details are as follows:
Event: National Para-Swimming Championships 2019
Venue: Manchester Aquatics Centre, 2 Booth St East, Manchester, M13 9SS
Dates: Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December
Saturday: Session one- 9:30am – 12:30pm. Session two- 2:30- 5:00pm
Sunday: Session three- 9:00 am – 12:30pm.
Start lists will be available from Thursday 28 November. Live results will be available from Saturday 30 November. Follow the event conversation with the hashtag #ParaSwim19.