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Golden start for Brits in Berlin

3 July 2011

Double Paralympic Champion Eleanor Simmonds got the British Gas GBR Disability Swimming Team’s medal challenge off to a golden start by clocking a world record to win the S6 400m Freestyle at the IPC Swimming European Championships.

Simmonds was one of five winners for the Brits on day one in Berlin and her gold had the whole team on their feet as she broke her own world record by two seconds.

400m seems so long but when you finish and you win, the feeling makes it all worthwhile.

The world champion went led from the start before finishing 17 seconds ahead of her rivals in 5:25.20.

And Simmonds admitted she was determined to break the record in the first finals session in Berlin.

“I just went for it in that final and I am so happy to get the record," said Simmonds "It was such a hard swim and at 200m it was tough. 400m seems so long but when you finish and you win the feeling makes it worthwhile.

“When I touched and there was no time because of the timing problem. I was a surprised and then I mistook the time of the board for 5:41 which I was really disappointed with.

"Then when I was told that I had got the world record I was so pleased. I have been training really hard and it’s great to have got that done on day one.”

Mirjam de Koning-Peper (Netherlands) won silver in 5:42.42 while Natalie Jones ensured there would be two Brits on the podium, finishing in 5:58.56 for bronze.

World champion Jonathan Fox set a new world record in the heats of the men’s S7 400m Freestyle and made no mistake wrapping up gold in the final.

I'm very pleased - I came here to get gold and it is great to have done that.

He lowered the record to 4:47.16 with an expertly timed heat swim and while he didn't break it again in the final, he clocked 4:47.33 to finish four seconds clear of Croatia's former world record holder Mihovil Spanja.

And the Brit admitted he had only one target for the final - winning gold.

“I am very pleased with that,” Fox said. “I came here to get gold and it is great to have done that.

"I might have gone out a bit strong but I think that the time was good. I got the record this morning and I knew I had that in me.”

In her first major championships race, Susannah Rodgers stormed to gold in a European record in the women’s S7 400m Freestyle.

That was not an easy race - I know my turns are better so I made sure I got the most out of them as I could.

The 27-year old was pushed hard early on Germany’s defending Champion Kirsten Bruhn but Rodgers increased her speed to hold a two second lead with 100m to go.

And after capturing her first European title in 5:22.61, the Brit admitted the victory hadn't been as easy as her 4.45 second margin of victory over Bruhn suggested.

"That was not an easy race but I just tried to keep it strong throughout," said Rodgers. "They were really pushing me hard out there but it was great to race someone like Kirsten.

“Itwas a quick first 100m and I don’t normally go out that fast but I knew the girls next to me would be quick so I wanted to go with them.

"I know that my turns are better so I just made sure that I got the most out of them as I could."

Rhiannon Henry secured a British record on her way to winning the women’s SM13 200m Individual Medley.

She led throughout the race to win in a time of 2:33.92 and after her race commented: “The Medley isn’t something I’ve been working on but I think I’ve moved it on in training for my other events. That was a three second pb for me and that has made me very happy.”

Heather Frederiksen made a golden return to the international scene with a powerful swim in the women’s S8 100m Backstroke.

I've not had the best preparation for the meet but I had a plan to go out there strong and I've done that tonight.

In an event that she holds the world record, she dominated the race from gun to wall, touching in a season’s best 1:15.90 in the final.

And Frederiksen admitted the race had gone better than expected, having suffered from illness this season.

“That went really well tonight," said Frederiksen, who won by more than five seconds from Norway's Mariann Vestbodstad. "I have not had the best preparation for this meet. I was really ill at Christmas and then three weeks ago I was back in hospital and so I have been out of the water for two weeks leading into this competition.

"But I had a plan to get out there strong and I am happy that I have done that tonight.”

The youngest member of the British Gas GBR Disability Swimming Team, Andrew Mullen, won silver on his international debut. Mullen was competing in the men’s S5 50m Butterfly and finished in 42.69 to win his medal while teammate Anthony Stephens won bronze in 43.68.

Stephanie Millward and Louise Watkin won silver and bronze respectively in the women’s S9 100m Freestyle. Millward finished in 1:04.30 and Watkin touched in 1:04.70. Claire Cashmore finished fourth in 1:05.16.

Robert Welbourn won the silver medal in the men’s S10 100m Freestyle after touching the wall in a time of 55.07. Graham Edmunds finished seventh in a time of 56.92.

The men’s S8 100m Backstroke saw Oliver Hynd secure bronze on his international debut. He won his medal in a time of 1:07.95. Thomas Young finished fourth in 1:08.16 and Sean Fraser took fifth in 1:09.11.

James Anderson, the oldest member of the British Gas GBR Disability Swimming team, won bronze in the men’s S2 50m Freestyle in 1:06.62. The women’s S3 50m Freestyle saw Fran Williamson also win bronze with a strong swim that saw her finish in a time of 1:06.79.

Finally, Gemma Almond just missed the medals in the women’s S10 100m Freestyle after touching in a time of 1:05.54 while Emma Cattle took seventh in 1:06.92.

National Performance Director John Atkinson commented: “Five gold medals from five different athletes is a pleasing start to the competition. We had 14 medallists in total and all of those medals went to different swimmers so the majority of our team will be going home with a medal around their necks. This will be a good boost to team confidence as the meet progresses.”

 

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