Great Britain win six golds at Para Swimming World Series in Italy

Great Britain’s para swimmers continued their preparation for the British Swimming Championships with six golds and nine medals in total at the third leg of the Citi Para Swimming World Series in Lignano, Italy.

Some of the nation’s top stars were in attendance for a host of multi-classification competition, just a couple of weeks out from the Paralympic qualification event at the London Aquatics Centre in April.

Amongst those was Alice Tai, who secured two golds to open up her World Series medal count for 2024.

She got Great Britain off the mark with Women’s 100m Freestyle gold on the opening night, finishing just 0.41 seconds ahead of fellow S8 swimmer Palazzo Francesca.

Tai’s impressive time of a 1:06.07 saw her touch the wall first however and record the highest points total with a massive score of 989.

She then followed that up with the Women’s 100m Backstroke title in a swim that scored more than 1000 points.

It was around two seconds off her own world record effort from 2019 with a strong time of 1:10.30.

Her times in both events and from her fifth place finish in the 50m freestyle were her quickest since her amputation in 2022 in a strong week for the Rio 2016 Paralympic champion.

It was a double podium for Great Britain in the 100m backstroke as Olivia Newman-Baronius marked her GB debut with a place on the podium in third.

Debut to remember

The S14 was arguably the nation’s stand out performer at the event with what was an international debut to remember for the teenager.

As well as her bronze, she also claimed three golds across the four days in Italy.

Her first came in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke where the future star stormed to top spot with a time of 1:18.07 which earnt her 968 points.

She was joined on the podium by Paralympic silver medallist Grace Harvey – who scored 920 points for her time of 1:44.10 to finish in third place – whilst Iona Winnifirth was fifth.

One day later and Newman-Baronius was back on top of the podium in the Women’s 200m Butterfly.

She once again scored 968 points for her swim which was more than three seconds faster than her nearest rival – Thailand’s Nattharinee Khajhonmatha.  Ellie Challis also reached the final, finishing in eighth place before she got on the podium herself in the Women’s 50m Backstroke.

The S3 swimmer was second in a GB one-two that was led by two-time Paralympic medallist Tully Kearney.

Kearney dashed to the line to clock in a time of 42.06 to take the gold medal with a score of 993 points.

Challis wasn’t far behind after she scored 951 points for her 54.14 as the duo were the only two swimmers to score more than the 900 points in the event.

The GB medal rush was rounded out by a third gold for Newman-Baronius who edged a close race to the wall with Lam Yui Chan of China.

Just 0.06 split the two S14 swimmers who were the top two point scorers in the event by more than 80 points.

But it was Newman-Baronius who wrapped her week with yet another gold in a new British record time of 1:04.10 to earn 1015 points and secure her third title and Great Britain’s sixth and final gold of the week.

Despite not claiming a medal, Winnifirth broke three further records in Lignano.

The SB7 athlete attained one European and two British records at the meet in each of the women’s breaststroke events.

A new European benchmark was set by her in the ‘splash and dash’ 50m event where her new record effort (subject to ratification) of 42.70 saw her top the standings in the heats.

She also lowered the British best time in the 100m and 200m events with times of 1:34.41 and 3:33.60 respectively.

Also amongst the GB contingent in Italy were Kieran Williams who was fifth in the Men’s 400m Freestyle B Final, Siena Oxby who made four Youth or B finals across the event and Matthew Redfern who got in some vital preparation ahead of the British Championships in two weeks’ time.

Their results meant that Great Britain were second in the medal table at the event, narrowly behind hosts Italy. You can find all the results from the event here and you can watch back the action on YouTube here.

Images: British Swimming

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