The British Gas Swimming Championships at London’s Olympic Park start on Saturday (3-10 March) and will serve as the selection trials for Great Britain’s swimmers for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
A number of Paralympic stars are looking to make a splash and ensure their places at the Games, including Beijing 2008 medallists Ellie Simmonds and Sascha Kindred.
This year will be the first time the event has been held away from Manchester’s Aquatic Centre or Sheffield’s Ponds Forge International Sports Centre and will give swimmers the chance to compete in the London 2012 Paralympic Games pool.
As a two-time Paralympic gold medallist and reigning world champion in four events, Simmonds headlines the competition. Kindred, who has already racked up 14 golds and 20 total medals at previous Championships, will also look to steal the show.
Meanwhile, Dave Roberts, a 16-time Paralympic medallist who could potentially overtake Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as the most successful British Paralympian, had withdrawn from the Championships at the last minute due to pneumonia.
Disability events were first integrated into the British Championships in 2003, and the last world record set at the event was Jonathan Fox’s mark of 1:10.70 in the 100m Backstroke S7 in 2011.
At the Beijing 2008 Games, Great Britain finished fourth in the Swimming medal tally behind USA, China and Ukraine. The British delegation came away with 41 medals, including 11 golds, 12 silvers and 18 bronze.
Those who do not qualify at the Championships will have additional opportunities to qualify later this spring for a chance to compete in the London 2012 Aquatics Centre later this year.