Day two of the World Para Swimming World Series in Sao Paulo saw the season debut of Brazil’s most decorated Paralympian, Daniel Dias, who got his 2018 off to an excellent start by grabbing two gold medals.
The S5 athlete - and defending World Series champion - took part in the men’s 50m freestyle and 50m backstroke events, holding off a strong field to win gold in both. "I’m delighted to be back competing, and even happier after today's performance,” said Dias.
What made Dias’ performance even more special was the fact that less than 30 minutes separated his two finals. “For two races which were practically back-to-back, these results are excellent,” he explained. “It’s a great way to start off my season."
Friday morning’s heats got off to a frantic start with Chile’s S2 swimmer Alberto Abarza breaking his own Americas record in the session’s first race, the men’s 50m freestyle. Abarza is on fire at this World Series, having grabbed the pool’s first gold medal yesterday in the 200m freestyle, and picking up two silver medals today in the 50m backstroke and 50m freestyle, in which he once again lowered his own Americas record.
Abarza ended 2017 ranked number one in the world in 50m freestyle S2, and by setting this new record, the 33-year-old could not have started 2018 any better. "I feel amazing, my training in Chile has been going really well and I’m constantly improving my technique," Abarza told the IPC.
Abarza suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a hereditary neuropathy which causes the progressive loss of muscle tissue in various parts of the body. This has not stopped his progress in the pool, however, as the 33-year-old keeps getting better and better with each passing year. “Now I’m going to prepare myself for next year's Parapan American Games in Lima and then, God willing, the Paralympics in Tokyo."
Elsewhere, S9 world champion Daniela Gimenez, from Argentina, took gold in the women’s 200m medley and a silver in the 50m freestyle. Brazil’s S9 swimmer Camille Rodrigues added a silver medal in the 100m backstroke to her 400m freestyle bronze from the opening day.
The World Series in Sao Paulo comes to an end on Saturday with the 50m and 100m breaststroke, and 100m freestyle events. It then heads back to Europe for meetings in Italy, Great Britain, and Germany.
The World Para Swimming World Series has returned for a second year after a successful inaugural edition in 2017. Athletes take part in a number of events across the season, hosted in Europe and the Americas, with the swimmers’ performances ranked on a points scale to determine the final champions.