“It’s just great. I’m so ecstatic about the World Series and I think it brings a lot of awareness to the movement of the Paralympics. To be able to come here and compete for Team USA, there’s nothing better.”
The USA’s multiple world and Paralympic champion Jessica Long won the opening World Para Swimming World Series race on Saturday (11 March), going on to double up in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The S8 athlete claimed 946 points to take victory in the opening event - the women’s 100m freestyle mixed classification.
“I think it went really well. I am really excited, it’s my first meet back since Rio,” Long, who left the Rio 2016 Paralympics with six medals, said. “In all honesty I haven’t been training that much, I’ve just been getting back into swimming so I’m really happy with the results.”
On her historic win, the 25-year-old continued: “It’s just great. I’m so ecstatic about the World Series and I think it brings a lot of awareness to the movement of the Paralympics. To be able to come here and compete for Team USA, there’s nothing better.”
Swedish S14 swimmer Pernilla Lindberg (928 points) was second, followed by Germany’s Naomi Maike Schnittger (906, S12).
All other races, except for two premier events, were also run as mixed classifications.
After the shorter sprint event, Long (968) picked up her second victory of the day in the women’s 400m freestyle. Her Paralympic champion teammate Rebecca Myers (948, S13) followed her into second. Schnittger (855) was third for her second podium of the meet.
The USA’s Leanne Smith (1047) broke the S4 world record in the women’s 50m butterfly. Whilst the event is not on the Worlds or Paralympic programme Smith showed great potential, touching in at 49.46 seconds.
“I’m feeling great, it’s an accomplishment I’ve been working on in the past few years so it’s nice to see the hard work finally pay off and come together in my races,” Smith said.
“It’s my first world record and it will add to a few Americas records I have as well.”
Her teammate Meyers (963) joined her on the podium in second. Hungary’s Zsofia Konkoly (906 points) was third.
Norway’s Paralympic and world title holder Sarah Louise Rung (1022) proved once again why she is a face to watch in the women’s 100m breaststroke.
The 27-year-old SB4 swimmer had the perfect opening to a season in which she will try to defend four Worlds golds, claiming first.
Germany’s Verena Schott (906 points, SB5) was second. Lindberg (895) reached her second podium finish with third place.
Rounding off the women’s races, the 50m freestyle S10 was run as a single class premier event.
The Netherlands’ Marije Oosterhuis (29.63) led the field, just edging Estonia’s Susannah Kaul (29.94) into second. Hungary’s Bianka Papa (31.09) completed the top three.
Portugal’s triple Paralympian David Grachat (884, S9) was the first male athlete to step on top of a World Series podium in the men’s 100m freestyle.
Jonas Bastian Sorensen (883, S14) secured second for Denmark just one point behind. Finland’s Leo Lahteenmaki (851, S9) was third.
Niels Mortensen (871, S8) delivered the hosts a much anticipated win in the men’s 100m backstroke. Belgium’s Aymeric Parmentier (820, S14) was second, followed by Canada’s Phillipe Vachon (811, S8).
Great Britain’s Aaron Moores, the Rio 2016 gold medallist, was the winner of the men’s 100m breaststroke.
The SB14 athlete collected 970 points, beating Sweden’s Karl Forsman (935, SB5) into second. Parmentier (902), one of Moore’s rivals in the men’s intellectually impaired, was third.
The 50m freestyle S9 was run as a single class premier race and concluded the men’s events.
Finland’s Lahteenmaki added to his third from the 100m freestyle, winning in 27.28.
Grachat (27.40) reached his latest podium in second, ahead of Hungary’s Bence Mocsari (27.68) in third.
More information about the World Para Swimming World Series, including full results, can be found at the World Series website.
Pictures are available for download from the Danish Paralympic Committee's Flickr.
Competition concludes in Copenhagen on Sunday (12 March). Heats begin at 9:30am (CET) and finals at 4.00pm.
The World Series takes in some of the biggest Para swimming competitions around the world ahead of the 2017 World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico City, from 29 September-6 October.
Sao Paulo, Brazil; Sheffield, Great Britain; Indianapolis, USA; and Berlin, Germany, will host events between March-July.
All world records are subject to ratification by World Para Swimming.