World, Paralympic champions prepare for short course

Some of Great Britain's finest World and Paralympic champions will be among the 290 disabled swimmers at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield, this weekend (23-24 November), the largest event of its kind in the country for some time. 22 Nov 2013
A picture of a man in the pool holding his hand up with clenched fist

Josef Craig won Paralympic gold in the men's 400m freestyle S7 in world-record time at London 2012.

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Great Britain’s Eleanor Simmonds OBE, Jessica-Jane Applegate MBE, Hannah Russell and Amy Marren feature in the women’s start lists over the 25m pool. Included in the men’s races are stars such as Josef Craig MBE, Oliver Hynd MBE, Matt Walker MBE, Jonathan Fox MBE and Sascha Kindred OBE. Collectively they have won numerous medals on the international stage and broken many records in their success.

The Championships have been managed for many years by Disability Sport Events (DSE) in partnership with British Swimming. DSE is an English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) programme, which delivers a range of participation opportunities from grassroots to international standard. This is the final DSE event in 2013, a year which has proved memorable for the British elite swimmers. In August, they finished third in the medal table at the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada, winning 55 medals in total (18 gold, 22 silver and 15 bronze).

Among the stars at the World Championships was 15 year old Amy Marren. She won the 100m butterfly S9, 200m individual medley SM9 and two relay golds. Amy made her British team debut at last year's London Paralympics, reaching the 400m freestyle and 100m backstroke finals. Despite missing out on a medal on that occasion, she has shown form in 2013. Ahead of the Championships, she said:

“This weekend I’m looking for some good times and strong swims. I am going to Sao Paulo in Brazil on Monday for the Brazilian School Games, so I’m looking to use this as a good meet ahead of that. All the events are getting more competitive now as there are good swimmers coming through all the time. Swimming has always been a competitive sport so it’s important to stay on top of your game.”

At 35, Sascha Kindred OBE is an established performer in the water and has competed in five Paralympic Games during his career. To date, he has won six Paralympic, nine World, and eleven European Championship gold medals. Kindred said:

“I’m not competing in any of my main events this weekend so to get some solid swims in new events would be nice. I am working on my freestyle for my medley and also trying something new. My 400m free should be competitive as long as I can complete it! But I’m also looking forward to seeing Josef Craig and Jon Fox in the 400m freestyle S7. That should be a great race!”

As well as the experienced swimmers to watch, there are many newcomers taking part. The mixture of new and world class gives the championships an extra special atmosphere. Marren and Kindred gave their own advice to the first-timers.

“Enjoy the experience, have fun, and just swim fast as you can. You can only gain from the experience!” said Marren.

Kindred added, “Don't be intimidated by us ‘experienced’ swimmers. I have been competing at this event for over 20 years and looked up to senior athletes when I began. You never know what level you can get to so give it everything you've got.”

Spectators can attend free of charge during any of the three sessions. Details are as follows:

• Event: National Open Short Course Disability Swimming Championships 2013

• Venue: Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield, Great Britain

• Saturday 23 November Session one- 9:00-midday (GMT). Session two- 14:00-17:00 (GMT)

• Sunday 25 November Session three- 9:00- 13:00 (GMT)

The Championships are run with thanks to ongoing support from British Swimming, Sheffield City Council and Copiertec. DSE relies on sponsorship and fundraising to deliver the successful events programme.

Full results will be available at the EFDS website.

Follow the event tweets on @disabilitysport #SCSwim2013

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