From 16th to 19th March, two of Tonbridge Swimming Club’s Para-Swimmers travelled to Sheffield to compete in the Citi Para Swimming World Series event which incorporate a British Para Swimming Meet. This was, in effect, two competitions running as one event but the heats for both events were combined so club swimmers were racing against the top international para swimmers.
The event was the 3rd round of the international Para World Series event for 2023. There were 304 Para swimmers from 35 nations competing in the World Series event, plus 111 swimmers from 72 different GB clubs racing in the British Para Swimming part of the meet.
Callie Ann Warrington (S10 classification) was competing in the Citi Para Swimming World Series part of the competition as she had recently been classified as eligible for future selection as part of the GBR international para team. Iona Winnifrith (S6 classification) was competing in the British Para Swimming meet that was being run alongside the World Series Meet.
This para swimming event ranked swimmers according to the equivalent FINA points allocated for the time they swim in the heats and finals. FINA points are allocated by a complicated formula that compares the swimmer’s time to that of the current para world record for their classification category.
These MC (multi-class) events are very exciting to watch as the swimmer who swims the fastest time in the heat does not necessarily score the most points as it is all dependent on their classification.
The Citi World Series races featuring the international competitors offered two or three finals in the evenings and the top 10 British swimmers with the highest point scores (that are not yet classified as international swimmers) qualified for the one national final the same evening.
Swimming in her first international para meet, Callie set her sights on improving on her recent para swimming times. She raced in 100 Freestyle, 200m IM, 100m Breaststroke and 50m Freestyle.
Callie qualified for the fastest 50m Freestyle Citi World Series final and she was aiming for automatic qualification for the Para World Championships which are being held in Manchester later this year.
Unfortunately Callie finished outside of the QT on this occasion but this is the beginning of her para-swimming journey and we have every belief that she will represent GBR in the near future at a major international event.
Callie is ranked Number 1 in Great Britain for her S10 classification in 2023 in 50m freestyle; third in 100m freestyle and sixth in 200m IM. There are great things to come from her.
Iona Winnifrith (S6 classification) had a very busy schedule of races across the four days as she swam in 100m Freestyle, 50m Breaststroke, 100m Breaststroke, 50m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly and 50m Freestyle.
On day one Iona had a settling in race in the in 100m Freestyle. Day two was very hectic for her with 50m Breaststroke, 100m Breaststroke and 50m Backstroke all in the same session.
Iona totally swam out of this world and set new PBs in her heats and qualified for all three national finals. On the live stream the commentators were very impressed with this young para-Swimmer from Tonbridge SC and feel she has a very bright future ahead of herself.
In the 50m Breaststroke and 100m Breaststroke she not only qualified for the National final of those events but she won them both with two second PBs. Unfortunately, just winning the National final does not earn the swimmer a medal.
However, British Para Swimming then informed her that she had earnt more points than all the World Series GBR swimmers that raced in the 50m Breaststroke and was therefore both the GBR and GBR Junior winner in the 50m Breaststroke. She was given a special podium presentation all to herself the next night to present her with her two Gold medals.
In the 50m Butterfly Iona finished in fourth place in the National final (based on points) and fifth in the 50m Backstroke National final. She narrowly missed qualifying for the final in the 50m freestyle event. A great set of swims from young Iona who put her name to the forefront of her S6 category as she is ranked second in GB in 2023 for her category in 50m Fly, 50m Breaststroke and 50m Freestyle, 2nd in 100m Breaststroke and 4th in 100m Freestyle.
Congratulations to both Callie and Iona on their great swims and we are sure they will both benefit from the learning experience racing such highly ranked swimmers from all over the world.