Swimming superstars are ready to go at Rio 2016Daniel Dias, Eleanor Simmonds, Carlos Serrano and Jessica Long are amongst Paralympic sport’s biggest names set to compete from 8 September. 06 Sep 2016
Swimming at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games gets underway on Thursday (8 September) with nearly 600 athletes, including some of Paralympic sport’s biggest names, looking to claim 152 gold medals.
Brazilian 10-time Paralympic champion Daniel Dias could be the headline act at his home Paralympics as he looks to become the most decorated male Paralympian of all time.
Dias has a packed programme, entering nine men’s S5 events at the Aquatics Stadium. He will seek to open his medal account on Thursday in the men’s 200m freestyle S5 and, if he wins that and the subsequent seven individual and relay races, he could overtake Swedish shooter Jonas Jacobsson’s total of 17 gold medals.
“I have high such expectations for the Paralympics that my heart is beating fast,” Dias said. “I am very happy to participate at the Games at home. My goal is to always swim well.”
Dias’ compatriot Andre Brasil, himself a seven time Paralympic champion, will go for eight titles in the men’s S10. The hosts could see another Brazilian on the podium as Phelipe Rodrigues tries to usurp his teammate in the men’s 50m freestyle, just as he did at the European Open Championships in May.
In the women’s S10 Canada’s world champion Aurelie Rivard and New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe will renew their rivalry. Rivard broke Pascoe’s 100m freestyle world record on her way to gold at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games.
The USA’s 12-time Paralympic champion Jessica Long is celebrating an impressive fourth Paralympics, having won her first titles at Athens 2004. The 400m freestyle S8 was one of them and the 24-year-old has been the world champion since 2006.
The 400m freestyle S6 is set to be one of the most exciting events of the Paralympic Games. Ukrainian world champion Yelyzaveta Mereshko beat Great Britain’s Paralympic title holder Eleanor Simmonds at the 2015 Worlds, the first time the Briton has experienced defeat since 2008 in this event. Simmonds then broke the world record in April, swiftly followed by Mereshko in May.
“As a movement, Paralympic sport is growing and improving year on year. I can confidently say the talent in swimming has never been so high,” Simmonds said.
“I can't wait. The Paralympics is the reason we get up and train every day. Four years – well, more really – of incredibly tough training come down to these moments.”
Ukraine’s Dmytro Vynohradets is going for six medals in the men’s S3. He won his first golds on his Paralympic debut at Beijing 2008. However, at London 2012 he settled for two silvers and a bronze. Since then Vynohradets has returned to his winning form, claiming 11 titles from two World Championships, including consecutive golds in the 50m backstroke S3.
Fans will remember Chinese ‘armless swimmer’ Tao Zheng’s iconic performance in the 100m backstroke S6 from London 2012. Zheng broke the world record on his way to gold and his performance and celebrations captured the world’s imagination. He is the double world champion, and broke his world record again in 2015.
In the men’s 100m breaststroke SB9 South Africa’s Kevin Paul heads out in his favourite event as the London 2012 silver medallist. Since then, he has claimed two world titles and came within a few tenths of breaking the world record in 2015.
Colombian 17-year-old Carlos Serrano will make his Paralympic debut, also as a breaststroke specialist, and is aiming to win his country’s first Paralympic title for 30 years. He is the reigning world champion and world record holder in the men’s 100m breaststroke SB7, having lowered the mark an incredible four times in two years.
“It is my first Paralympics. There is great expectation to be among the best and I want to improve my marks,” said Serrano. “The adrenalin when swimming, my determination to give each race everything I have, and my desire to win, I think is what makes me successful.”
In the visually impaired events, New Zealand’s Mary Fisher has won two world titles in the women’s 100m backstroke S11 since making her Paralympic debut at London 2012, where she took silver.
In the 400m freestyle S11, Dutch 15-year-old Liesette Bruinsma turned the event on its head in 2016. She touched in first at the European Open Championships ahead of German world and Paralympic champion Daniela Schulte.
The USA’s Bradley Snyder returns in his favourite event, the men’s 400m freestyle S11. Having won gold at London 2012 exactly one year after losing his sight while on duty for the US Navy in Afghanistan, Snyder has since also claimed the world title.
In the breaststroke, Japan’s Keiichi Kimura is on course to secure his first Paralympic gold in the men’s 100m SB11 as the world title holder. He will face Ukraine’s Oleksandr Mashchenko, a consistent podium finisher since Sydney 2000.
Belarusian Ihar Boki is another swimmer looking to win gold across all six of his men’s S13 events. He gets his campaign underway with the 100m butterfly as the Paralympic, world and European champion. He set a new world record in this event at the 2015 World Championships and will aim to go even faster in Rio.
Organisers have saved one of the best races until the last day of competition on 17 September, when fans will have the chance to catch the world’s fastest Paralympian Maksym Veraksa in action in the men’s 50m freestyle S12.
The Ukrainian holds the world record of 22.99 seconds, set before he won gold at London 2012. Azerbaijani brothers Raman and Dzmitry Salei will attempt to catch Veraksa and may even push him to another world record.
In the intellectually impaired events, flying Dutchman Marc Evers will defend his men’s 100m backstroke S14 title. He will face a tough fight, having lost out on World Championships gold in 2015 to the likes of South Korea’s In Kook Lee.
Great Britain’s Paralympic champion Bethany Firth will defend her 100m backstroke S14 title having missed the World Championships due to injury. She will race against world champion teammate Jessica-Jane Applegate.
Live coverage, a full schedule and results of the Rio 2016 swimming competition will be shown at Paralympic.org between 8-17 September.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.