“Watching Ellie Simmonds at the London Games really inspired me. It was in our own country and everybody got together in one massive event. It definitely made me want to do the same.”
Maisie Summers-Newton was only 10 years old when she decided what she wanted to be.
“Watching Ellie Simmonds at the London [2012 Paralympic] Games really inspired me. It was in our own country and everybody got together in one massive event. It definitely made me want to do the same.”
Six years later, Summers-Newton was in Dublin, Ireland, this summer for her first major Para swimming competition. In the lane right next to her for the women’s 100m breaststroke SB6 final was Ellie Simmonds.
It looked like a dream coming true. But the reality was even better.
“I was just hoping to be faster than in the heats. But to take gold and break my own world record was surreal,” she said after the race.
“It was very weird [to compete against Simmonds]. I love racing against Ellie. She’s such a great swimmer and I’m so proud of what she’s achieved.”
The 16-year-old from Northampton brought home two golds, a bronze and two world records from the Dublin 2018 World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships.
Besides the 100m breaststroke, the British swimmer also won the women’s 200m individual medley SM6 – with a new world mark – and finished third in the 400m freestyle S6.
“I definitely didn’t think I would do it. To compete against all these people in my first Europeans was amazing.
“I mean, the breaststroke is always my favourite and I was hoping to medal in that. But to do it again [in the 200m medley] was unbelievable.”
Savouring the moment
Summers-Newton’s favourite stroke allows swimmers a rare opportunity to spot their rivals in the pool and even see the public’s reaction.
But it only works for the first half of the race, according to the European champion.
“I always see the first 50 metres, especially in the 100m breaststroke. Then I just give all I have in the last 50m and hope for the best,” she said with a smile.
Unlike many other medallists from Dublin who said they were already thinking about the 2019 World Championships in Kuching, Malaysia, and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Summers-Newton is in no rush.
“This is always something I look forward to but I’m not thinking too much about it. Right now I just want to wait for whatever happens in the future.”