Snyder recalls delight at breaking 30-year-old world record

More than one month on from Rio 2016, the US swimmer describes how important it was for him to break the 30-year-old 100m freestyle S11 world record. 21 Oct 2016
The USA's Bradley Snyder celebrates winning the men's 400m freestyle S11 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

The USA's Bradley Snyder celebrates winning the men's 400m freestyle S11 at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

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The USA’s Brad Snyder has spoken of his delight after fulfilling a three-year aim to break a Para swimming world record at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games that had stood for more than a quarter of a century.

After coming within 0.11 seconds of John Morgan’s 30-year-old 100m freestyle S11 world record of 56.67 on his way to the 2015 world title, Snyder left the World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain, even more determined to lower the mark.

At last month’s Paralympic Games, the 32-year-old finally lowered the mark touching the wall in 56.15 to take his third Paralympic gold in Rio.

“It is something that I have been trying very hard to do during the last three years. And to break that record was a remarkable experience,” Snyder said.

“I know I will not be the world record holder for long. There are many athletes and we inspire each other to push each other even harder.

“To push the metres forward and what blind people think they are capable of is something I take a lot of pride in.”

Snyder also won gold in the 50m and 400m freestyle S11 events, and a silver in the 100m backstroke S11. Despite this success he still regrets not reaching the podium in the 100m butterfly S11.

“I was in a position to medal, if not win, this event until the last five metres and then I hold up and then ended up getting fourth,” said Snyder, who also won two golds and one silver at London 2012.

“I left the water a little bit disappointed with that race. It left me a little bit hungry and there are many things I believe I still can do. I am very competitive and want to win every race. I was pleased with the other races though.”

Overall however Snyder enjoyed his second Paralympic Games in Rio and has highlighted three achievements that stand out for him.

“Being able to be on the podium with Matheus Souza from Brazil was really cool,” he said.

“It was such a cool moment for him to win that medal, stand in front of his home crowd and feel that. It was an honoured to be a part of that moment. It was great to see how Rio and its culture embraced the Games.

“Secondly, I would mention spending time with my family in Rio and talking with them about the Paralympic experience. And my family was so excited to see the best world’s sports have to offer and share that with me.

“Lastly, the world record in the 100m freestyle was a really cool experience. At this stage of my life, at 32-years-old, with the amount of swimming, weightlifting, dreaming, visualising and preparing, is all worth it. And it is just a remarkable feeling.

“You are in and out of the pool and it is hard to absorb all that experience in one week and a half, and now it is over and we are already talking about Tokyo. It is so intense.”

With Tokyo 2020 in mind, Snyder knows that the Paralympic Games provide a unique opportunity for athletes to set new harder goals, which is why he admits he has no motivation issues.

“Maybe come back as a triathlete, maybe try out a different world record or redeem myself in the 100m butterfly S11. They’re all sort of different things I can pursue the next three or four years,” he said.

“The gold medals are great, but it is more about who I became to be able to achieve that. I have worked very hard, I am stronger than ever before. By holding myself to the highest standards, I will always be the best version of myself.

“And I am hoping to inspire others to be the best version of themselves.”