The British Gas Disability Swimming Team enjoyed a medal haul today with eight golds, five silvers and a bronze at the IPC Swimming European Championships in Reykjavik.
The gold medallists consisted of Eleanor Simmonds, Sam Hynd, Heather Frederiksen, the women’s 34 point 4x100m Medley Relay team, Anthony Stephens, Craig Rodgie, Stephanie Bird and Matthew Walker.
The women’s 34 point 4x100m Medley Relay saw the British Gas team, which featured Heather Frederiksen, Claire Cashmore, Stephanie Millward and Louise Watkin, knock thirteen seconds off a nine-year-old world record.
Frederiksen got the team off to a quick start and Cashmore and Millward put in strong laps to ensure the team was turning under the world record and within reach of a medal.
Watkin took over the race in second place but within 15m she had taken the lead from the Russian team and stormed through the rest of the anchor leg to take the gold medal and the world record after finishing in 4:54.47.
“That really topped of a great night for the team,” Watkin said. “The girls just did so well and I knew I had to keep it going. They really had put in great performances and I knew I had to do it for them.”
The silver went to the Russian team in 5:09.50 and the bronze was won by Spain in 5:15.26.
Double Paralympic Champion Eleanor Simmonds took her second gold medal of the competition in the women’s S6 50m Freestyle.
She came from behind to take the title in a time of 36.85 with British Gas team-mate Natalie Jones just behind her in 37.64.
“That was a good race for me,” Simmonds said. “I went into the race wanting to go below 37 seconds and I did that which was great. I knew I wanted to go fast and I knew they would be ahead at the start but I worked to pull it back.”
Bronze went to Tanja Groepper (Germany) in 38.21.
World record holder Heather Frederiksen swam to an emphatic victory in the women’s S8 400m Freestyle as she finished with a lead that stretched over thirty seconds.
Frederiksen dominated the race and had a lead of almost 40m at the halfway point she dug deep and showed her power to extend that over the next 200m.
She finished 45 seconds ahead of the swimmer in second after finishing in a time of 4:49.79.
Silver went to Julia Kaus in 5:34.56 and bronze was won by Lisa Den Braber (Spain) in 5:49.17 and British Gas Swimmer Charlotte Henshaw finished in fourth in 5:49.18.
Stephanie Bird secured the gold medal in the women’s S14 100m Backstroke after moving up the field from second in the final 50m.
Bird swam a well timed race and showed an excellent finish to take the gold in a new personal best time of 1:16.67 and the silver medal went to Shu Hang Leung (Hong Kong) after finishing in 1:16.88 and the bronze was won by Marlou van der Kulk (Netherlands) in 1:16.94. Amberley Hoar finished in fifth place in 1:22.15.
The women’s SB9 100m Breaststroke saw Louise Watkin win her second medal of the competition as she claimed silver behind new European record holder Nina Ryabova. Watkin in 1:22.15. The European record was lowered to 1:21.85.
Head Coach Lars Humer commented: “We set a high standard for our athletes coming into the event and we are seeing the benefits of them. It was definitely our night tonight and we have been working hard but we are really enjoying the process.
“The world record in the relay really shows the strength in depth that we have in our higher classes. There were six different combinations with twelve athletes that we could have gone under the world record and to have got the world record that was set at the Sydney Paralympics was a bonus for us.”
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS