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Bright future ahead as Para-swimmers make their mark on international stage

2018 was certainly a successful one for athletes in all our aquatic sports. In the fifth of a series of articles, we look back on those achievements and find out what 2019 has in store.

Para-swimmers certainly made their mark on the international stage in 2018.

Tom Hamer, Alice Tai, Ellie Robinson and Lewis White represented Team England at the Commonwealth Games and returned with five medals – three golds and two silvers.

At the World Para-Swimming European Championships in Dublin, Maisie Summers Newton burst onto the international scene, claiming three golds, one silver and setting two new world records in the SB6 100m Breaststroke and the SM6 100m Individual medley.

And 17-year-old Louise Fiddes was crowned Women’s World Para-Swimming World Series Champion, defeating Canada’s three-time Paralympic champion Aurelie Rivard by 85 points.

It’s performances such as those which makes Martin Lees, Swim England’s Para-swimming development manager, think there’s a bright future for para-swimming.

Strong field of athletes

He said: “The Swim England Para-swimming talent team have selected a strong field of athletes for the 2018-19 talent programme, with good representation across the three categories of functional, visual and intellectual.

“As a talent team, our aim is to identify young athletes and develop them with the potential to progress onto the world-class programme.

“This year saw 16 England athletes progress onto the British Para-Academy, which is eight more than last year.

“Our focus for next year is to work closely with club coaches to improve the quality of swimmers coming into the system.

“We are also looking to work more strategically with partners on how we get more young disabled people into para-swimming.”

And with more high-profile events scheduled for 2019 – including the World Para-Swimming Championships in Kuching, Malaysia – there are plenty of opportunities for our athletes to shine as they count down to the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.