New world records from Kearney and Challis top golden night for Great Britain

Tully Kearney and Ellie Challis both lowered their own world records as they stormed to gold on the opening day of the World Para Swimming Championships 2022.

The record-breaking swims topped off a successful first finals session for Great Britain, with seven medals in total – five gold, one silver and one bronze.

Kearney was the first of those gold medals as she clocked a time of 34.07 in the Women’s 50m Freestyle S5 final.

Her impressive performance saw her retain the world title and go under her previous record, which she set in Berlin earlier this year, by 1.21 seconds.

The next to finish behind Kearney was Brazil’s Joana Maria Da Silva Neves Euzebio (37.14) and Italy’s Monica Boggioni (39.40) was the bronze medal winner.

Kearney said: “I’m still pretty shocked with that. This morning, I didn’t even know if I was going to race due to my injury but I’m just over the moon.

“I’ve had to be a lot more sensible and race smart, which is something I struggle with as a natural racer. But in order to keep my shoulder going throughout the meet, I’ve got to be sensible throughout the heats and then go for it in the final.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do as the meet progresses”.

After the joy of one new world record, the wait for a second wasn’t a long one.

Ellie Challis was next to set the records tumbling with her gold medal-winning swim in the Women’s 50m Breaststroke SB2 final.

Challis powered into the lead and went on to lower her world record from 2019 by 1.09, managing a time of 1:04.33.

Taking the silver medal was Veronika Guirenko (1:25.74) of Greece and the only SB1 swimmer in the final, Italy’s Angela Procida, claimed bronze in 1:42.47.

Challis said: “I didn’t even think I was making it to my race.

“I ripped two suits, I literally ran from the changing room straight out, I had no time in the call room – thanks to Sarah [Kennedy] and everyone on the British team that ran around getting me other suits and my training suit just in case, and someone from the Spanish team that helped me get into it.

“I really didn’t think I’d make it to the race and to then do a world record is insane because I was just so happy to make it in the end.

“I didn’t really care after that after I made it to the race that’s when the focus changed. I did the best race of my life in breaststroke and I’m so glad I got to be here and I got to do it in my own class for once which was lovely.

“I’ve gained absolutely loads of confidence. I haven’t been able to do a PB in three years now so to go and break it after all that drama happened was insane, and I’m so happy that my dad was here to watch it as well and got in for this final”.

Britain’s clean sweep

Britain took a clean sweep of the medals in the Women’s 200m Freestyle S14 final as Bethany Firth claimed her first world title in the event.

Firth and Jessica-Jane Applegate had opened up some space between themselves and the remainder of the athletes to comfortably secure the gold and silver medals.

The gold medal-winning time was 2:08.72, followed by Applegate’s 2:10.26.

Louise Fiddes also held off Australia’s Madeleine McTernan to clock in at 2:13.07 and ensure all the medals went the way of Great Britain.

Clegg claims gold

Stephen Clegg took gold in Men’s 100m Backstroke S12 final ahead of Paralympic champion, Raman Salei of Azerbaijan.

A great start set the tone for the race and saw Clegg clinch the victory in a time that would have won the gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics.

The new world champion touched the wall in 1:00.03 to beat his own British record by more than a second, which he set when taking bronze in Tokyo (1:01.27).

Salei finished in second place in a time of 1:00.71, followed by Spain’s Borja Sanz Tamayo (1:09.52) in third.

Russell reaps reward

Hannah Russell was victorious in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S12 final.

The current world record holder in the event finished outside of her Rio 2016 time (1:06.06) in this final, but still did enough to second the gold medal.

Russell touched the wall in a time of 1:08.75, almost a second ahead of her nearest rival in Maria Carolina Gomes Santiago (1:09.68) of Brazil.

Spain’s Maria Delgado Nadal took the bronze medal in 1:13.65.

Personal bests and debut swims

Grace Harvey and Sam Downie both set new personal bests in their respective events.

After setting a new personal best in the heats, Harvey finished fourth in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S6 final.

She lowered her PB yet again by 0.17s to finish in a time of 1:28.13.

Downie’s new personal best came in his first ever World Para Swimming Championships final.

He finished in seventh place overall in the Men’s 400m Freestyle S8 final with a time of 4:51.62.

Scarlett Humphrey made her World Championships debut in the Women’s 50m Freestyle S11 final. Her time of 34.19 saw her finish in fifth.

Three Brits featured in the final of the Men’s 200m Freestyle S14 final.

Thomas Hamer, Reece Dunn and Jordan Catchpole went head-to-head, with Hamer (1:58.40) finishing fifth and 1.11 ahead of his teammate Dunn (1:59.51) who finished in sixth place.

Jordan Catchpole touched in eighth with a time of 2:00.39.

Zara Mullooly placed eighth in the Women’s 50m Freestyle S10 final in 29.46 but has her sights set on stronger performances in the longer freestyle distances later in the competition.