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Para-swimmers reflect on 'positive' first Masters National Champs experience

Two of the para-swimmers that took part at the 2022 Swim England Masters National Championships have spoken about their first experiences of the event.

Para-swimming was integrated into the programme for the first time in 2022 as a trial, with medals awarded to S1-S14 classified para-swimmers based on British Para-Swimming points.

The event took place at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge International Pool from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 October.

Reflecting on her experience, 23-year old para-swimmer Jasmine Barber said the competition has given her a purpose to carry on competing.

“It’s been really good to be involved and given me a real purpose to come and swim in this event.

“I hope more people get involved because once you’ve got one or two para-swimmers competing and people see that, it should lead to more people getting involved next time.”

The event gave Jasmine the opportunity to swim alongside her mother for the first time in a competitive environment.

The duo swam in the same heat during the Women’s 100m Breaststroke with mum Nicola explaining how it was a special moment for them.

She said: “It was really special for us; I don’t know who was more nervous!

“It’s great that Jasmine can come here and compete because when para-swimmers get older and above the elite swimming age there’s no competitions for them.

“We’ve always loved Masters swimming because it’s so inclusive and that’s what swimming should be about and we’ve seen that a lot during this event.”

“It gives us something to aim for”

As part of the trial in Sheffield, para-swimmers were given the opportunity to take part in the events below.

  • 50m Freestyle
  • 100m Freestyle
  • 100m Backstroke
  • 100m Breaststroke
  • 100m Butterfly
  • 100m Individual Medley

Satellite Swimming Club’s Samantha Lewis was another para-swimmer who took part in the three-day event, swimming in a number of races throughout the competition.

On the involvement of para-swimming in the Masters National’s she said it’s a ‘real positive step’.

She said: “Everybody at the event, the swimmers, officials and everyone involved has been really supportive and I’m really excited about the fact of us having para-swimming continue into Masters because you tend to be aged out at 18 and you wonder where do you belong.”

“We’re trying to put our experience out on social media so our friends that are para-swimmers see it and think we can go to that, we can be involved and be successful at these events.

“It’s good to know there is a system coming in for it now because we’ve been saying for a while now that there isn’t anything to aim for.

“We knew we could go and swim but there are no competitions apart from for the elite swimmers.

“With it being included here and medals being given out too it just means there is something that I can go and target and achieve. It’s a real positive step.”

Both Jasmine and Sam are looking forward to coming back to the competition next year.

Jasmine said: “We’ll definitely be back at Masters next year and hopefully para-swimming and more para-swimmers will enter because we’ve really enjoyed the event.”

Sam then added: “I’ve enjoyed swimming and the atmosphere at Ponds Forge. Masters swimming is such a friendly and welcoming environment and the more para-swimmers that get involved the better it will become.”

Following the competition, there will now be an evaluation and review taken to further develop and enhance the inclusion of para-swimming at the Masters National Championships.

You can catch up with all the results of this year’s Swim England Masters National Championships here.