World Para Swimming Championships
12-18 June 2022

Madeira 2022: Six talking points

From multi-medallists to happy hosts and successful newcomers, the World Championships in Portugal gave us a lot to talk about 22 Jun 2022
A woman outside a swimming pool stretching her head to touch the head of a man inside the pool
Abbas Karimi (left) made his Worlds debut for USA taking a relay gold medal alongside Elizabeth Marks (right)
ⒸPedro Vasconcelos/Madeira 2022
By World Para Swimming

The first World Para Swimming Championships in three years saw emerging stars and household names shine from 12 to 18 June at the Funchal Swimming Pools Complex in Madeira Island, Portugal.

Forty-three out of the 59 nations competing at Madeira 2022 picked at least one medal – 25 of them gold. But this year’s Worlds was not all about podium visits. 

Here are the talking points from seven days of action.

Italy's golden duo

Italy topped the medals table for the second consecutive World Championships with 27 triumphs in Funchal. Simone Barlaam and Stefano Raimondi were behind 11 golds.

Barlaam broke two world records (100m backstroke and freestyle S9), won five individual medals in five races and teamed up with Raimondi to help Italy finish first in the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay 34 pts, also a world record.

Raimondi bagged five individual gold medals as well and added a silver and a bronze to it as the male athlete that had the most podiums at this year’s Worlds.


Abbas’ second debut

Afghan-born Abbas Karimi has two World Championships debuts in his Para swimming career. The first was at Mexico City 2017 where he competed as a refugee Para athlete picking up one silver medal. 

Flagbearer of the Refugee Paralympic Team at the Tokyo 2020 Games, he received US citizenship this year and made the debut for his new country at Madeira 2022. 

Team USA finished second in the medals table with 24 golds and Karimi was directly involved in one of them. He was part of the mixed 4x50m medley relay 20pts alongside Ellie Marks, Rudy Garcia-Tolson and Leanne Smith (the most successful swimmer in Madeira with seven gold in seven events).


New year, new talent

Madeira 2022 showed the talent in depth in Para swimming. Nine months after the Paralympic Games, the competition crowned world champions who made their international debut after Tokyo 2020. 

At only 13 years of age, Spain’s Anastasiya Dmytriv took her first World Championships gold beating Paralympic champion Ellen Keane of Ireland in the women’s 100m breaststroke SB8. 

Sixteen-year-old Brazilian swimmer Samuel Oliveira was another newcomer to leave Funchal with extra luggage following his three golds and two silver medals.


Alice is back

Madeira 2022 marked the return of Great Britain’s Alice Tai to major competition after she had her leg amputated below the knee in January.

She withdrew from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics due to an elbow injury making this her first major since the London Worlds in 2019. 

Tai competed in two races picking a silver in the women’s 100m freestyle S8.  


Best of Brazil

If Tokyo 2020 marked the farewell to Para swimming legend Daniel Dias, Madeira 2022 saw a new generation of Brazilian talent emerge. 

Gabriel Araujo, Gabriel Bandeira, Mariana Ribeiro and Samuel Oliveira made their World Championships taking at least one gold medal. 

Brazil finished in the top three with 19 golds and 53 medals in total.


Parabéns, Portugal!

It was a special World Championships for the host nation. 

Portugal podiumed three times at the World Championships. Susana Veiga repeated her London 2019 silver in the women’s 50m freestyle S9.

Diogo Cancela and Marco Meneses bagged bronze in the men’s 200m medley SM8 and men’s 100m backstroke S11, respectively. 

Madeira 2022 was the biggest Para sport competition ever to take place in the country with around 500 athletes from 59 countries. 

Complete results and all medallists from the World Championships can be found here.