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Simmonds breaks records in first swim of Games

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1st September 2012

Defending champion Ellie Simmonds smashed the Paralympic record to qualify fastest for the S6 400m Freestyle final in her first appearance of London 2012.

The 17-year old stormed clear of the field in her heat, breaking her own European record as well as slicing more than 16 seconds off her marker from the 2008 Games as she finished in 5:24.64.

I didn’t know I was on world record pace or PB pace. I just felt really good out there.

USA newcomer Victoria Arlen beat Simmonds’ world record earlier in the season and the American set up a mouth-watering final as she progressed second in 5:25.19.

But it was Simmonds who shone brightest in the morning session and, having swum out on her own for the majority of the race, the British teenager admitted she didn’t know how fast she was going.

“I’m really happy,” said Simmonds. “I can’t believe I’ve done a PB in a heat swim.

“I didn’t know I was on world record pace or PB pace. I just felt really good out there.

“It’s going to be really tough. From that heat, you can see Victoria is on form as well so it’s going to be very tough but very exciting so I’m looking forward to it.”

Simmonds’ teammate Natalie Jones also reached the S6 400m Freestyle final as she touched in 6:03.95 to finish third in her heat and seventh overall.

Competing at her third Paralympics, Claire Cashmore qualified fastest in her main event – the SB8 100m Breaststroke.

Nobody gets a medal from the heats so tonight is where I’ve got to do it.

The world silver medallist, who won bronze in this event in Beijing four years ago, controlled her heat to win in 1:22.90 – only 0.47 seconds off her season’s best.

Russia’s world and Paralympic champion Olesya Vladykina won the second heat in 1:23.12 and Cashmore admitted she expected the final to be a much faster race.

“I think a lot of girls were holding a lot back in those heats,” said Cashmore. “The race starts now.

“Nobody gets a medal from the heats so tonight is where I’ve got to do it.

“I’m going to rest and eat and mentally prepare myself to go faster tonight.”

Matt Whorwood qualified third fastest for the S6 400m Freestyle final in his first appearance of London 2012.

The World Championship silver medallist from 2010 cruised through his heat in 5:17.28, qualifying behind Ireland’s Darragh McDonald (5:02.38) and Sweden’s defending champion Anders Olsson (5:06.90).

"I'm really pleased with that swim," said Whorwood. "I looked at Anders to see where he is at the moment and I'm going in third into the final so it's a middle lane - I'm pretty pleased."

Sascha Kindred and Thomas Young eased into the SB7 100m Breaststroke final as fourth and fifth fastest respectively.

Defending champion from the past three Games, Kindred was the quicker of the two, touching second in his heat in 1:23.59 while Young, who won European gold last season, finished in a season's best 1:24.90.

"I was really happy with that race," said Kindred. "I'm through to the final in fourth so we'll see what happens tonight.

"I'm going to try and do a PB and get on the podium if I can."

Five-time Paralympic medallist Anthony Stephens reached his second final of the Games in the S5 200m Freestyle.

Having finished sixth in the 50m Freestyle, the triple Paralympian qualified fourth fastest over 200m, clocking a season’s best 2:51.42.

Rhiannon Henry made smooth progress to her first final of London 2012 in the S13 50m Freestyle.

Competing in the first event of her third Paralympics, th 25-year old finished third in her heat and fifth overall in 29.06 - just 0.25 seconds shy of her season's best.

James Crisp and Sam Hynd felt the benefits of winning medals last night as they impressed to reach the SB8 100m Breaststroke final.

Former world champion Crisp, who won S9 100m Backstroke silver on day two, set a personal best 1:15.84 to finish third in his heat and progress fifth fastest.

Meanwhile, British record holder Hynd, who won S8 400m Freestyle bronze yesterday, clocked a season’s best 1:16.80 to qualify in seventh for his second final of the Games.

Gemma Almond reached her second Paralympic final of London 2012 in the S10 100m Butterfly.

Having finished eighth in the SM10 200m Individual Medley on the opening day in London, the British record holder clocked 1:14.07 to finish fourth in her heat and progress eighth fastest overall.

James Hollis ducked under the minute mark for the second time in his career as he finished 10th in the 100m Butterfly heats on his Paralympic debut.

The 18-year old, who broke the British record with a 59.53 swim earlier in the season, finished fourth in his heat in 59.98.

Teammates Rob Welbourn (1:01.96) and Graham Edmunds (1:05.48) set season’s bests to finish 15th and 19th overall.

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