Paralympic medallist Robert Griswold became the first man in his class to swim the 50m backstroke in under 30 seconds as day two of the World Para Swimming World Series finale reached a thrilling climax in Berlin, Germany. The Rio 2016 bronze medallist, who has cerebral palsy and competes in class S8, shattered his personal best to claim bronze.
“It feels amazing and I’m just so pleased with the time,” the 22-year-old from New Jersey said. “It’s such a pleasure to break a record in such a storied meet at such a storied venue.”
Griswold – who finished behind Ihar Boki of Belarus and Estonia’s Matz Topkin in the multi-class race - said the special conditions inside the iconic SSE venue had spurred him on.
“This is always a wonderful meet and a wonderful place for Para sport,” he said. “It’s the organisation, facilities and the truly special people which make it what it is: the best Paralympic meet in the world outside of a world championships or Paralympic Games.”
Liesette Bruinsma of the Netherlands is another Para swimmer who cannot get enough of the Berlin pool. The double Paralympic champion rose above the World Series rivalry of Alice Tai and Aurelie Rivard to claim gold in the 100m freestyle on Friday.
“I won the gold medal last year here and so I wanted to defend my title,” she said. “I think it’s the atmosphere of the competition and the enthusiasm of the organisation. There are a lot of athletes and it’s nice to compete with the other (German) national swimmers.”
Unfazed by her second-place finish in that race, Great Britain’s Tai made an immediate return to the water to claim gold in the 50m backstroke.
“I’m not sure how I did it as I had just jumped out of the 100m freestyle, so my heartrate was over the roof already and I was a bit dead,” the 20-year-old said.
“The hardest part is the recovery in between because normally you’d have a bit of a swim down, but I literally got out of the pool and walked straight down (to the start).
“It’s just about managing your emotions after the first race; if it’s good, not getting too excited and if it’s bad, just putting it aside until you’ve finished everything for the evening.”
Great Britain teammate Reece Dunn added another world record to his growing collection as he won gold in the men’s 100m freestyle.
“It’s brilliant really,” he said. “I’m not very rested and yet I’m faster than what I did at the British championships about a month ago, so I’m very pleased with how the results have turned out.”
In the finals of the 150m individual medley on Friday, Gina Böttcher won gold for Germany in the women’s race while Ami Omer Dadaon of Israel continued his excellent meet so far by winning the men’s event.
Competition runs until Sunday with live results available online.
Races can be watched live on World Para Swimming's Facebook page.
*World records are subject to ratification by World Para Swimming.