With the third leg of this year’s World Para Swimming World Series beginning in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Thursday (26 April), here’s a brief look back at what we learned from last weekend’s second round in Indianapolis, USA.
Successful returns for sport’s big names
The USA’s 13-time Paralympic gold medallist Jessica Long and Great Britain’s five-time Paralympic champion Eleanor Simmonds were just two of the big names to return to international competition in the second World Series event of the year.
Many of the swimmers competing in Indianapolis were making their season debuts; some testing their form after a hard block of winter training, while others returned to the pool after spending time away from the sport.
Long took three months away from the pool after winning eight gold medals at the 2017 World Para Swimming Championships in December in Mexico City. Gold medals in the women’s 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley, plus silver in the 100m breaststroke ensured it was a medal-winning return for the US swimmer.
Simmonds also impressed on her return, claiming three medals after a year away from the sport to travel around the world.
US swimmers’ dominant in home pool
The USA had the largest delegation in Indianapolis, featuring six Paralympic champions and 10 current world champions, so it was perhaps no surprise they dominated their home World Series.
US swimmers won 17 gold medals, including wins for Paralympic champions McKenzie Coan, Michelle Konkoly and Rebecca Meyers, across the 30 medal events in Indianapolis.
The World Series also saw the next generation of US Para Swimming coming through. There were two US teenagers on the women’s 100m breaststroke podium as 17-year-old Hannah Aspden and 14-year-old Gia Pergolini claimed gold and silver respectively.
Surprise success stories continue
While it was the USA who stole the headlines in Indianapolis, there were also a number of other success stories.
Afghan-born Mohammad Abas Karimi continued his remarkable rise as he claimed gold in the men’s 50m backstroke. The S5 swimmer made history at the 2017 World Championships in Mexico City by becoming the first refugee swimmer to reach the Worlds podium, and he opened his 2018 season with gold in Indianapolis.
Japan’s Takuro Yamada also showed how far he has come in Para swimming after victory in the men’s 100m freestyle. Yamada was scared of water when he was younger, and took up the sport after his parents enrolled him in a swimming school, but the Japanese swimmer produced a fearless performance to claim gold.
Success for Irish duo bodes well for Dublin 2018
The main target for European swimmers this season will be this summer’s 2018 Allianz World Para Swimming European Championships, in Dublin, Ireland.
The chance to compete in front of their home crowds at a major championships has given Ireland’s Ellen Keane and Nicole Turner extra motivation, and this was on show last weekend.
Keane and Turner were Ireland’s only competitors in Indianapolis, but they travelled back across the Atlantic with four medals between them.
Keane won silver in the women’s 200m individual medley and bronze medals in the women’s 100m breaststroke and 100m butterfly, while 15-year-old Turner claimed silver in the women’s 50m butterfly.
Both swimmers will be eager for further medal success at their home European Championships.
Still all to swim for in overall standings
Consistent performances from the USA’s Hannah Aspden and Hungary’s Ivan Bence at both Indianapolis and Copenhagen World Series give them the No. 1 hold in the women and men’s rankings, respectively.
Hungary’s No. 2 ranked Bianka Pap, who was also in Copenhagen, scored enough points in Indianapolis to keep within distance of Aspden.
The USA’s Robert Griswold topped the men’s standings at Indianapolis, and his points tally of 1913 puts him fifth in the World Series rankings.
With four more World Series events this season, there is still plenty to swim for, before the series finale in Berlin, Germany, in June.
Brazil’s Daniel Dias topped the overall men’s standings last year, and the Brazilian will be hoping for another strong performance at this week’s Sao Paulo World Series event.
Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy and Sheffield, Great Britain will also host events before the season finale.
More information about the World Para Swimming World Series, including full results from Indianapolis, can be found on World Para Swimming’s website.