As the countdown begins to the second World Para Swimming World Series event of the season in Indianapolis, USA, it is time to look back at what was learned from a record-breaking season-opener in Copenhagen, Denmark earlier this month.
No sign of any early season cobwebs
Copenhagen was the first international competition since December’s World Championships, and, for many swimmers, the event offered a first opportunity to test their early season form.
There were, however, no signs of any early season cobwebs, as three world records were broken in the Bellahoej Svoemmestadion.
Great Britain’s Stephen Clegg broke the 50m butterfly S12 world record twice, while Liesette Bruinsma also lowered her own world record.
Bruinsma beat her 100m freestyle S11 record by 0.01 seconds to make it a record-breaking start to the season.
If this is how fast the swimmers can go in their opening race of the season, how quick will they go later in the season? Expect plenty more world records to be broken throughout the World Series.
Age is just a number
The season opener saw both young and more experienced swimmers triumph in Copenhagen.
Over half of the events were won by swimmers under age 20, underlining the talent and potential of the next generation of swimmers coming through.
The youngest winner of the weekend was 14-year-old Toni Shaw of Great Britain, who was victorious in the women’s 400m freestyle.
The young medallists from Copenhagen will definitely be names to look out for throughout the year and beyond, especially if they continue competing at the highest level for as long as France’s Claire Supiot and Switzerland’s Stephan Fuhrer, who both showed age is just a number in Copenhagen.
Supiot celebrated her 50th birthday just days before the competition started, and three medals, including gold in the women’s 50m freestyle, ensured the celebrations continued through the weekend.
Fuhrer turns 51 this year, but he showed there is no match for experience as he began his season with victory in the men’s 50m freestyle.
Great Britain and the Netherlands set early pace
With the World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships taking place in Dublin, Ireland, later this year, European swimmers in particular will be eager to build form ahead of the continental championships in August.
Swimmers from Great Britain and the Netherlands certainly impressed in Copenhagen, as the two nations dominated the opening World Series event.
More than half of the medals were won by either British or Dutch swimmers, and only six of the 27 events were won by swimmers who were not from the two nations.
Both nations will be hoping their domination continues as they target European success.
Consistency the key to success
Norway’s Sarah Louise Rung and Great Britain’s Thomas Hamer were both rewarded for their consistency in Copenhagen as they topped the women’s and men’s overall ranking after the opening event of 2018.
Rung won a silver and bronze medal, before rounding off her weekend with gold in the women’s 200m individual medley, amassing 2025 points in total from her best two events.
Hamer used his freestyle prowess to finish with 1963 points after claiming gold and silver in the men’s 100m freestyle and 200m freestyle respectively.
But, with five more World Series events this season, there is still plenty to swim for, before the series finale in Berlin, Germany, in June.
Stunning start to World Series
After a successful debut in 2017, the World Para Swimming World Series returned for its second year in Copenhagen and the Danish capital ensured it was a stunning start to the 2018 edition.
Not only were four world records broken inside the Bellahoej Svoemmestadion, but there were lots of exciting racing for the crowds to enjoy too.
As with last year’s inaugural World Series, all races are multi-class, meaning they feature swimmers of multiple classifications, with the winner determined by a points system; a system which led to a number of close finishes in Copenhagen.
The gold in both the men’s 100m backstroke and men’s 200m freestyle was decided by just three points, while nothing could separate the Netherlands’ Cleo Keijzer and Great Britain’s Megan Richter in the women’s 100m backstroke as both swimmers took gold.
Expect more exciting racing when the World Series travels across the Atlantic for the next event in Indianapolis from 19-21 April.
Sao Paulo, Brazil; Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy; Sheffield, Great Britain; and Berlin, Germany, will also host events between April and June.
More information about the World Para Swimming World Series, including full results from Copenhagen, can be found on World Para Swimming’s website.