The Singapore leg of the World Para Swimming World Series is turning out to be a superb outing for Sophie Pascoe, after another stellar showing by the New Zealander on the second day of action, Saturday, at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
The multiple Paralympic champion clocked another world record*, touching home in 27.69s in the women’s 50m freestyle for a new S9 mark, as well as the gold medal. It was the second world record of the meet for the 26-year-old, coming on the back of the 100m freestyle world record the night before.
She finished ahead of silver medallist Rachael Watson of Australia and Elizabeth Smith of the USA, who took bronze.
Pascoe’s performance so far in Singapore has come as a surprise, even for the veteran athlete. By her own admission, with the national championships in New Zealand coming up in four weeks’ time and the all-important World Championships in September still to come, she has not tapered herself to be at her best for Singapore.
“I’m definitely not at my peak, which is why it’s so incredible that I broke the world record, and I’m so happy about it,” she said.
Still, the amount of preparation she has been putting into strength work and diet – on top of listening to a little Missy Elliott to get her pumped before the race – seems to have been enough to pay dividends.
She added: “It was actually unexpected that I did that time. It’s just been about going out there and giving it a 100 per cent. Tonight I just felt really good going into the 50m, and to finally do a personal best after two years since [the Rio 2016 Paralympics], is an amazing feeling.”
The 200m individual medley – Pascoe’s pet event – remains on the slate for the final day of action, and this result is arguably the best affirmation she could have gotten.
“This really sets me up for the last 50m in the freestyle for the 200 individual medley. I should be looking to come back faster than I usually do for 200IM, and that’s the main factor.”
Japan shines for region
The Japanese team picked up two golds, continuing an impressive run for Asia at the World Series’ first time in the continent.
Dai Tokairin of Japan won the men’s 200m freestyle event, adding to the 100m butterfly gold that he had already claimed the night before. He shared the podium with silver medallist Roman Zhdanov of Russia and teammate Keichi Nakajima, who took bronze.
Said Tokairin: “I’ve already raced in some international races before, so it helped me be more experienced and have better control of my nerves (in Singapore).”
The 20-year-old admitted he is beginning to feel the heat in the lead-up to a Paralympic Games held at home in Tokyo in 2020.
“There are a lot of expectations – for gold and for world records. But I will race my own race and beat myself.”
Uchu Tomita gave the Japan team its other gold of the night, winning the men’s 400m freestyle ahead of Ernie A Gawilan of the Philippines and Andrei Granichka of Russia.
Veteran Paralympic champion Jessica Long of the USA claimed her first gold of the Singapore event, winning the women’s 400m freestyle. Compatriot Meimei White came in second while Russia’s Mariia Pavlova took the bronze.
The World Series continues on Sunday, the event’s final day of action in Singapore. Results are available online.
*All world records are subject to ratification by World Para Swimming.