Last weekend saw over 100 young para-swimming take to the pool in Southampton for the National Junior Para-Swimming Championships. Commonwealth Games’ champion, Alice Tai, fresh from her gold and silver medal success on the Gold Coast cheered on the swimmers.
The event saw swimmers aged between 10-18 years old compete in the short course event. Amongst swimmers celebrating personal bests and medal winning performances, Colchester’s Ellie Challis broke a British record in the SB2 50m Breaststroke
Ellie commented: “I feel really good about beating my own record in the SB2 50m Breaststroke. However, my biggest achievement was knocking 10 seconds off my personal best in the 50m Backstroke.”
Competitors also had the opportunity to meet special guest Alice Tai. She joined a packed crowd after returning from a successful Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. There she won a gold in the S9 100m Backstroke and a silver in the S9 100m Freestyle. Tai began her competitive swimming career in this pool and went on to take part in this national junior event. This weekend’s swimmers were delighted to have her support.
Alice said: “It’s really nice being back here at the Quays in Southampton. I remember having my first ever meet here back in 2010, so it was literally the very start of my journey.
“To be able to host events like the National Junior-Para Swimming Championships with so many young para-swimmers is really important. It makes everyone realise there is a community within para swimming and these young swimming hopefuls are experiencing their first steps into that.
“My advice to these junior para-swimmers would be to just enjoy it because nobody can take that away from you.”
Para-swimmer Ellen Stephenson, one of the competitors from the weekend said:
“My Saturday afternoon swimming went much better than the morning as I wasn’t using all my power but overall I’m happy with my performance. I came away with four S14 group bronze medals and two personal bests!
“It’s really important to come to events like this one as it gives me a chance to show what I can do. I’ve also really enjoyed meeting other people. It was really good meeting Alice Tai. She gave me some really good advice and encouragement.”
The event, organised by the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) and supported by Swim England, was the first time Southampton hosted the event. The unique partnership between these two organisations aims to increase the opportunities and talent development of young disabled swimmers. Organisers were also proud to work with SOS as an event supporter.
Full competition results are available online at www.efds.co.uk.