World Series lands in Berlin with record number of participants

Headlined by Paralympic and world stars including local star Engel, the Berlin 2023 will have biggest field of 420 athletes from 51 nations in the World Series 10 May 2023
Home favourite Taliso Engel was only 17 years old when he became world champion in London 2019 and repeated the feat at the Madeira 2022 Worlds.
Home favourite Taliso Engel was only 17 years old when he became world champion in London 2019 and repeated the feat at the Madeira 2022 Worlds.
ⒸAdam Pretty / Getty Images
By Victor Pereira | For World Para Swimming

After two stops overseas, the Citi Para Swimming World Series 2023 is back to Europe as it lands in Berlin, Germany for four days of high-quality action from 11 to 14 May.

The German capital has been part of the World Series programme since the inaugural season in 2017 with the event again taking place at the Schwimm- und Sprunghalle in the Europasportpark (SSE).

In this season, 420 athletes from 51 different nations will be in action in multi-class events what makes the Berlin 2023 the most attended leg of the World Series so far.

Home nation Germany will have 35 Para swimmers with Tokyo 2020 Paralympic champion Taliso Engel (S13) leading the charge. The 20-year-old has won all the gold medals in 100m breaststroke in a major championship since his international debut.

Engel was only 17 years old when he became World Champion in London 2019 and repeated the feat at the Madeira 2022 Worlds.

“I just wanted to reach the final at my first world championships. But then I surprisingly won the final. That was such a crazy experience for 17 years old me,” said the German swimmer.

It was not long before his achievement was bettered by himself. Two years later, he was crowned Paralympic champion by winning the race at Tokyo 2020.

Paralympic dream

“It was always my big dream to compete at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. But that I win the gold medal at my first Paralympics is something I could’ve never imagined,” confessed Engel.

Last season, the promising swimmer also confirmed his favourite status becoming the world champion again in Madeira 2022.

“I honestly just tried to defend my title. But it wasn’t that easy. Because there was always something that kept me from training: I got infected with corona and had a lot of other diseases. So, all in all the past four years were very crazy, but I’m very happy with the process and how I developed as an athlete.” he said.

Engel will be in the pool just for the men’s 100m breaststroke on Thursday (11 May), first day of competition. He knows he is the one to be beaten and he already feels the pressure. But Engel knows how to manage it.

“I think the only thing that’s important - to not let the pressure drive you crazy- is mental strength. For me the easiest way to deal with the extra pressure is to try to distract myself so I don’t have to think about it all the time,” the 2021 European champion swimmer said.

The German team also counts on other strong names to fight for medals.

Among those are 34-year-old world champion Verena Schott (S6) who competes in the women’s 50m freestyle, 50m and 100m backstroke, 50m and 100m breaststroke, 50m and 100m butterfly, and 200m medley.

Among the men, 20-year-old Josia Topf (S3) dives into the pool for six events - the 50m and 200m freestyle, 50m and 100m backstroke, 50m butterfly, and 150m medley.

The largest squads

Only two other countries have more athletes than the hosts competing in Berlin.  

Spain has arrived with the largest squad of 45 athletes led by world champions Antoni Ponce Bertran and Sarai Gascon.

Five-time world champion Gascon (S9) competes in the 50m and 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, and 200m medley while Ponce (S5), the three-times world champion, swims the 200m freestyle, 50m backstroke, and 50m breaststroke in addition to the events in which he bagged two gold medals in the World Championships in Madeira last year – 100m breaststroke and 200m medley.

Great Britain also will be hugely represented in Berlin this year with 40 athletes, including Paralympic champions Jordan Catchpole and Maisie Summers-Newton.

Catchpole (S14) can be witnessed in the 50m, 100m, and 200m freestyle, 100m backstroke and butterfly events while Summers-Newton (S6) competes in the 100m, 200m, and 400m freestyle, in addition to the 50m backstroke and 100m breaststroke.

Updates and results from the Citi Para Swimming World Series Berlin 2023 will be available on World Para Swimming social media handles.