Britain enjoyed a night of hat-tricks yesterday (Friday) at the World Para Swimming European Open Championships in Madeira as Jessica-Jane Applegate led the way again with a brilliant performance.
Applegate’s victory in the Women’s S14 (intellectual impairment class) 100m Freestyle secured her third European title of the week, while also acting as the second of three medal wins on the night, in between bronze-medal swims from Tom Hamer (Men’s S14 100m Freestyle) and Stephanie Millward (Women’s S9 100m Backstroke).
With her event going straight to the final, it meant City of Norwich competitor Applegate had to hit the water running in the evening. But given her eye-catching displays so far in Madeira, that was never likely to slow her down – and she took control to lead throughout the two laps and surge clear to touch first.
Jessica Jane Applegate said: “It was really hard not having a heats swim this morning, because I learn a lot when I do a heat, so I tried doing something different before the finals,” Applegate explained afterwards.
“I tried doing two warm-ups, so it was about trying new things today. The time was okay for where I am, but I wanted to be under the minute – I’m always tough on myself.
“I hope I can do it [the clean sweep of golds] but it’s going to be a lot more painful than that one as it’s butterfly. For where I am, with not much training, I’m really pleased with how I’m doing and how I’ve coped with the situation.
“This is my first competition in a long time, so I’m really pleased, but I’m also really excited to go home and start training really hard.”
While Applegate added to her ever-growing tally in Madeira, the Women’s S9 100m Backstroke served up a first medal of the week for Millward.
The three-time Paralympian was part of a nip-and-tuck tussle with Sweden’s Lina Watz and Zsofia Konkoly of Hungary, as Spain’s Nuria Marques Soto pulled clear for the gold.
The first British medal of the night (Friday) came courtesy of Tom Hamer. The freestyle specialist – who trains under Graeme Smith and Jonathan Fox at the National Performance Centre – had already claimed silver over the 200m distance on day one, before returning here to take bronze in the Men’s S14 100m Freestyle.
After qualifying fastest through the heats, Hamer found himself with some catching up to do at the turn in the final. He did just that, with good pace down the home straight ensuring a fourth-place finish overall and European bronze.
“I’m really happy with a second medal, getting a bronze after the silver. I haven’t come here for the medals, I’ve come here for the process of the race and I’m just glad I went that bit faster from heat to final,” said Tom Hamer.
“I was ecstatic this morning, to be going that time now. As a team, we’ve had such a small team of eight athletes and a few members of staff here. That’s been great – I felt I’ve had that one-to-one connection with the staff and athletes.”
The Championships runs from 16th to 22nd May 2021 in Madeira.
Rescheduled from 12 months ago, the European Championships will provide athletes from across the continent with performance and classification opportunities relevant to them, three months out from the start of Tokyo 2020.
Britain’s eight-strong team, managed by British Swimming are:
Abby Kane, Stephanie Millward, Ellie Robinson – all medallists at Rio 2016 – and Northampton SC’s Will Perry will look to put in strong swims while undergoing the classification process across the meet.
Tom Hamer and Jessica-Jane Applegate – both earned two golds at the 2018 Europeans in Dublin in the S14 class. Both are progressing their competition preparations, with the Madeira event part of their agreed performance programmes ahead of Tokyo.
Mikey Jones (S7) and Conner Morrison (SB14) both narrowly missed out on consideration times in their respective favoured events of the 400m Freestyle and 100m Breaststroke at last month’s British Para-Swimming International Meet – and this European opportunity could provide a perfect chance for the pair to go under the standards to put them in contention for a spot in Paralympics GB’s squad when selections are confirmed later in the year.
Story courtesy of British Swimming.
Published 22nd May 2021