Great Britain were crowned BT Paralympic World Cup trophy champions on the final day of the competition, which saw the world’s best Paralympic swimmers in action at the Manchester Aquatics Centre.
Double Paralympic champion Eleanor Simmonds was in fine form as she narrowly missed breaking her own world record in the SM6 200m individual medley, with a time of 3:09.36.
Simmonds had a strong freestyle leg to come within twelve one hundredths of a second of her record and was closely followed by fellow Brit Natalie Jones in 3:12.19, with BT ambassador Liz Johnson fifth in a time of 3:24.48.
The result was one of a number of superb British performances which saw the home nation add maximum points to the team trophy tally with GB having entered the day in third position after the Wheelchair Basketball and Athletics events over the past five days.
They overtook the defending champions, the Rest of the World team, to take the title for the first time, with the Americas in third and Europe fourth.
It was fitting that British wins commenced and finished the swimming competition, being broadcast live on Channel 4.
Stephanie Millward claimed the S9100m backstroke gold medal in the opening race of the day, in a time of 1:11.13 and Matthew Walker had a fantastic sprint in the S7 50m to close the session, winning in 28.62.
Louise Watkin narrowly missed the podium in Millward’s race but led a British one-two-three in the S9 50m freestyle. Manchester-based Watkin won in 30.04, with Millward second in 30.20 and Claire Cashmore taking the bronze with 30.38.
Watkin and Cashmore had a busy afternoon as they then took on a strong field in the SB9 100m breaststroke; the race was won by New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe in a time of 1:10.83, with Cashmore claiming silver in 1:21.63 and Watkin in third in 1:25.11.
The win was particularly poignant for Pascoe, having witnessed the loss of the only 50m swimming pool in the whole of Christchurch in the recent devastating earthquake in New Zealand and she has had to prepare for this meet in a 25m pool.
Charlotte Henshaw and Liz Johnson took the top two spots of the podium in the SB6 100m breaststroke, with Henshaw winning in a time of 1:39.33, just pipping her friend and rival as Johnson posted 1:39.61.
The GB men were also in fine form, with Sam Hynd taking the S8 400m freestyle gold medal in 4:28.99, followed by Thomas Young in second in 4:36.78 and Sean Fraser completing the podium positions in 4:40.23.
Young added gold to his medal tally in the S8 100m backstroke, winning in 1:09.57 and Sean Fraser finishing second in 1:10.56.
Another British one-two was secured by Daniel Pepper and Ben Proctor in the S14 200m freestyle; another close finish as Pepper won in 2:04.10 and Proctor touched the wall in 2:04.49.
The SM6 200m individual medley saw the Rest of the World’s Yevheniy Bohodayko take the title in 2:42.13 and GB’s Matthew Whorwood finish in second in 3:02.69.
China’s Nan Gao won the S7 100m backstroke in a race that was without GB’s Jonathan Fox, having withdrawn from injury. Gao won in a time of 1:14.34 and was followed by Britain’s Heather Frederiksen completing the British medal tally in the S8 50m freestyle as she won silver in a time of 31:62. China’s Shengnan Jiang won the one length sprint just one hundredth of a second quicker.
The Swimming drew the 2011 BT Paralympic World Cup to a close in what has been a fantastic week of competition across the three sports and the introduction of Boccia and Sitting Volleyball international matches to the event.
The BT Paralympic World Cup is the largest annual international multi-sport competition in elite disability sport. BT is entering its third year as title sponsor, in a sponsorship which runs up to and includes the 2012 BT Paralympic World Cup.