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Great Britain win 26 medals at European Para Swimming Championships

Great Britain’s para swimmers returned with 26 medals from the European Championships in Madeira last week as their road to Paris continues.

The nations squad of 15 swimmers headed to Funchal, Portugal for a week of racing where they claimed 13 gold, eight silver and five bronzes.

Their results meant they finished fourth in the overall medal table with the likes of William Ellard, Maisie Summers-Newton and Ellie Challis amongst those to top the podium.

Ellard was Great Britain’s most successful swimmer at the meet, coming away with two golds, a silver and a bronze in a stunning week for the St Felix Swimming Club swimmer.

His medal haul started on the opening night with top spot in the Men’s S14 200m Freestyle.

The Nick Thompson-coached swimmer led from start-to-finish to go close to the world record levelling pace he delivered at the Speedo Aquatics GB Swimming Championships in London.

Just one night later and he was back on the podium as part of a GB one-two behind Mark Tompsett in the Men’s S14 100m Backstroke.

The pair matched each other stroke for stroke much of the way, turning within a tenth of one another. The pair came under the flags and into the wall but it was Tompsett who would stop the clock first – with the gold and silver duo a second ahead of the rest of the field.

Ellard completed his medal set of one of each colour at these championships with S14 200m individual medley bronze before wrapping up his week with the S14 100m Butterfly title.

Winnifrith stars

13-year-old Iona Winnifrith was one of the stars of the competition just like she was in London. In her first international championships the young swimmer executed perfect medley and breaststroke performances to win two European titles.

Turning second in the Women’s SM7 200m Individual Medley at the 100m mark, Winnifrith quickly started to claw in the 8.5 second deficit Veronika Korzhova had placed on the entire field.

Coming towards the wall and the pair were side by side, but Winnifrith responded to touch first and take gold in a new British record of 3:09.76.

Winnifrith then produced a lifetime best in the Women’s SB7 100m Breaststroke final for gold to lower her own British record mark to 1:29.91. She finished a shade outside the current 10 year old European record before adding bronze in the S7 50m Butterfly.

Another swimmer to open their account at the European Championships was Harry Stewart. He marked his British team debut with a strong swim to win the Men’s SB14 100m Breaststroke title.

Going out well, he touched at the halfway mark within two tenths of the Ukrainian, Vasyl Krainyk, in the lane outside him. Stewart then powered away in the return length to stop the clock almost a second clear of the competition to secure gold.

Summers-Newton’s grand slam

A resounding victory for Maisie Summers-Newton in the Women’s SB6 100m Breaststroke completed the grand slam for her in the event.

In her first outing at a European Championships since Dublin 2018, she now completes her lock on the title at all four majors (Paralympic, world, European and Commonwealth) at the same time, as she builds towards the Paris 2024 Summer Games.

She added a second gold in the Women’s SM6 200m Individual Medley in a contest where she duly delivered.

Taking the race out hard under her own world record pace splits, the reigning Paralympic and world champion broke clear of the field.

While just fading back from her lifetime best in final freestyle length, Summers-Newton had already firmly established her position to claim the European crown.

Summers-Newton also took to the podium in the S6 400m Freestyle with silver and S6 50m Butterfly where she won bronze.

Ellie Challis had another landmark moment as she also won her first European gold of her career. Challis powered down one length fastest in the Women’s S3 50m Backstroke with her high stroke rate moving her clear of the field.

It was one of three medals for Challis across the week where she also won silver in both the S3 50m and 100m Freestyle events.

Olivia Newman-Baronius continues her rise

Olivia Newman-Baronius came away with two golds and one silver, including an exciting gold in the Women’s S14 200m Individual Medley.

Going toe-to-toe with Neutral Para Athlete Valeriia Shabalina, the pair traded the lead over the opening 100m. On the breaststroke Newman-Baronius made her move and did brilliantly to hold off the challenge to kick home to claim the gold.

In the Women’s S14 200m Freestyle, Newman-Baronius also claimed a European silver medal before she made it three medals from three events on the final night.

Her second gold came in the S14 Women’s 100m Butterfly where she set a new European record earlier this month.

After winning her first European Championships medal since 2018 with silver in the Women’s S6 100m Freestyle, Grace Harvey went one step further with gold in the Women’s SB5 100m Breaststroke contest.

Harvey looked the strongest throughout – and on looking up at the end of the race to see her name top of the scoreboard, she punched in the air in celebration of her maiden European gold.

Callie-Ann Warrington struck gold in the Women’s S10 100m Butterfly. She was second at the half way stage but powered into the lead down the return length and into the wall to clinch another debut European title.

Repton swimmer Megan Neave took a hard fought silver in the Women’s S14 100m Backstroke whilst Bruce Dee, claimed his breakthrough moment on the European stage in the Men’s SM6 200m Individual Medley.

Eliza Humphrey secured her first European silverware with bronze in both the Women’s SM11 200m Individual Medley and S11 400m Freestyle.