Madeira 2024: Nora Meister and Nicole Turner share the glory

Swiss and Irish swimmers touch the wall the same time to take gold in the women's 50m freestyle S6 in a day of close thriller finishes at the European Open Championships 25 Apr 2024
A female swimmer competing in a pool
Swiss swimmer Nora Meister has taken three gold medals so far at this year's European Open Championships in Madeira
ⒸPedro Vasconcelos/Madeira LOC
By AMP Media | For World Para Swimming

Ireland's Nicole Turner and Switzerland's Nora Meister shared the victory in the women's 50m freestyle S6 in an evening of close thriller finishes at the Madeira 2024 Para Swimming European Open Championships on Thursday (25 April).

After a strong start to the final by Turner, Meister caught up and both touched the wall at 35.51 seconds. The inseparable duo of 21-year-olds got one gold medal each; the first of the championships for Turner and the third for her Swiss opponent who has been on the podium four times in five days on the Portuguese island. Turner's teammate Dearbhaile Brady clinched the bronze medal 1.34 seconds after the winners.

“The 50m is really nice to race and we did have a head to head, and in the end we shared it so it was quite special,” Turner said. “We didn’t know [the result] so we were both confused. It is special to win the gold, but to win it with someone else is even more special.”

“That was special and to do it as a joint was even more special. To be honest the 50 free I love it. It’s an event that I really enjoy and I did really enjoy that race,” added Turner.

In another nail-biter, Ukraine's Anna Stetsenko claimed her second gold medal at Madeira 2024 as she won the women's 100m freestyle S12 by a margin of 0.06 second. Italy's Alessia Berra had to settle for a second silver medal of the championships, Spain's Maria Delgado Nadal taking the bronze 65 hundredths of a second after the winner.

First for Croatia

Croatia's 16-year-old rising star Emma Mecic fought a tight battle with Hungary's European champion and European record holder Zsofia Konkoly in the women's 400m freestyle S9 final. Italy's Vittoria Bianco had led the race halfway through, when Mecic made a push, refusing to let any opponent get past her. The Croatian finished in 4:45.38 to take the European title, 3.54 seconds before Konkoly in second place, as Bianco had to settle for bronze. It was Croatia's first gold medal at Madeira 2024.

When the men's 100m breaststroke SB5 world champion Antoni Ponce Bertran from Spain added a European title to his CV as he finished in 1:27.31, it was not without drama. The 36-year-old veteran timed his final race to perfection, beating Paralympic champion and world record holder, neutral athlete Andrei Granichka, by 0.14 of a second. Leo McCrea from Switzerland took bronze.

Turkey's Turgut Aslan Yaraman and Ukraine's Andrii Trusov have already had their battles in the men's S7 class at Madeira 2024, where both broke world records in the 100m backstroke on Wednesday. Thursday's 50m butterfly S7 final offered another tight clash between the two superstars, this time with Yaraman finishing on top of the podium. The Turkish 16-year-old finished in 29.73 seconds, seven hundredth of a second before Trusov, to claim his first European title, having previously won a silver and a bronze on the Portuguese island. South Africa's Christian Sadie finished third.

Ukraine's Yaroslav Denysenko earned his first gold medal of Madeira 2024 after a victory in the men's 100m freestyle S12. The 32-year-old beat his teammate, world record holder Maksym Veraksa, by 0.69 hundredths of a second, getting to climb on top of the podium after one silver and a bronze in Madeira. In a close fight for the medals, Azerbaijan's Raman Salei clinched the bronze 0.79 second behind the winner.

In a strong evening for Ukraine, who are still second in the overall medal table behind Italy, Denysenko's compatriot Dmytro Vanzenko set a new European record as he took the cold medal in the men's 200m individual medley SM14. Strong in the back- and breaststroke, the 27-year-old finished in 2:07.98 to cut four hundredths of a second off the previous record time, set by Great Britain's Reece Dunn in 2021. Another Ukrainian, Vasyl Krainyk, took the silver medal 4.60 seconds behind the winner as Great Britain's William Ellard clinched the bronze.

Five in five for Dorsman

Rogier Dorsman extended his unbeatable run at Madeira 2024 with a fifth gold medal in five events at the championships as he won the men's 100m freestyle S11 title with a killer finish. The 24-year-old finished in 57.55 – less than a second outside of his European Record, set in the same pool in June 2022 – to claim the victory 1.23 seconds before Ukraine's Danylo Chufarov, who had been fourth at the 50m turn. Edgaras Matakas from Lithuania finished third by a margin of five hundredths of a second.

In another display of Dutch dominance, world record holder Liesette Bruinsma made no mistakes as she won the gold medal in the women's 100m freestyle S11, taking her first European title since 2019.

Great Britain's Grace Harvey, who had been one hundredth of a second from a medal in the women's 400m freestyle S6 on Wednesday, made up for that with a gold medal in the 100m breaststroke SB5. The 25-year-old vice world champion finished 0.97 of a second ahead of Italy's Arianna Talamona in second place as Germany's Verena Schott clinched the bronze medal.

Harvey's teammate, 17-year-old European championship debutant Olivia Newman-Baronius, took the gold medal in the women's 200m individual medley SM14, pushed all the way to the finish by world record holder, neutral athlete Valeriia Shabalina, who had to settle for a silver medal. France's Assya Maurin Espiau claimed the bronze.

In another British triumph, international debutant Callie-Ann Warringon made an impressive comeback in the women's 100m butterfly to upset Lisa Kruger from the Netherlands and take a maiden European gold medal. At the 50m mark, the 23-year-old had been in second place behind Kruger, but made a powerful push in the second half of the race to beat the Dutch vice world champion by 1.02 second. Italy's Alessia Scortechini claimed the bronze medal, two hundredths of a second behind Kruger.

France's Ugo Didier led most of the men's 400m freestyle S9, chased by Jacobo Garrido Brun from Spain who gave him a run for the money. The Spanish 21-year-old got closer and closer but did not manage to get past Didier, who touched the wall at 4:16.94 to take his second gold medal at Madeira 2024, 0.85 of a second behind Garrido Brun who had to settle for silver. Belgium's Sam de Visser clinched the bronze.

“I was enjoy racing here because it’s such a wonderful pool. The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games are coming and it’s quite exciting to know that it will be at home, so it’s the last international step before the Games and it’s really important,” Didier said.

Didier's teammate Dimitri Granjux was unbeatable in the men's 50m freestyle S3, touching the wall in 42 seconds. Claiming his second gold medal in Madeira, the 18-year-old Frenchman finished 2.67 seconds before Germany's runner-up Josia Tim Alexander Topf who had to settle for a third silver medal at these championships. European S2 record holder and defending champion, Serhii Palamarchuk from Ukraine, took the bronze.

Italy, with 17 gold medals and 45 medals in total, leading before Ukraine on 16 gold medals and 49 medals in total in the overall standings, had another strong evening in the Funchal pool. Carlotta Gilli won the women's 50m freestyle S13 final to clinch her third title and fourth podium at Madeira 2024 and Stefano Raimondi showed an impressive consistency as he also completed a hat trick of gold medals with a victory in the men's 100m butterfly S10.

Raimondi, who looks keen to match his tally of five gold medals at last year's world championships, finished 1.06 second ahead of Ihor Nimchenko from Ukraine, who had to settle for a silver medal. Riccardo Menciotti in third place made it two Italians on the podium.

Germany's Gina Boettcher also made it three Madeira 2024 titles as she won the women's 50m freestyle S4 gold medal by a 0.35 margin ahead of neutral athlete Nataliia Butkova. The 23-year-old, who tops the world rankings in the event, got a strong start and finish of the race to add another title to her triumphs in the 150m individual medley SM4 and 50m backstroke S4. Delia Fontcuberta Cervera from Spain finished third.

Ami Omer Dadaon and Ariel Malyar produced an Israeli one-two in the men's 50m freestyle as Dadaon, the European, world and Paralympic champion in the event, joined the club of triple gold medal winners. The 22-year-old, who set the world record in the same pool in Funchal in 2022, was untouchable and finished one second and a half ahead of his teammate as neutral athlete Roman Zhdanov took bronze.

Spain's Marta Fernandez Infante won the women's 50m freestyle S3 gold medal by a margin of 1.69 seconds as Great Britain's Ellie Challis, who had claimed her maiden European title in the 50m backstroke S3 on Wednesday, had to settle for a silver. Neutral athlete Zoya Shchurova took bronze, 14.57 seconds after the winner.

Netherlands finished off the fifth day of Para swimming action in Madeira with a mixed 4x100m medley relay 34pts gold medal at the world record time of 4:26.54. Italy, in second place, were 4.05 seconds behind as Spain, the previous European record holders, had to settle for bronze 5.88 seconds after the winners.