The thrilling journey of the 2023 Allianz Para Swimming World Championships came to a close in Manchester, leaving behind a trail of unforgettable moments. From triumphant World Champions defending their titles to welcoming new talents and witnessing new World Records, the past three days have been a whirlwind of action-packed races in the S14 class for athletes with intellectual impairment. Here are some final wraps from Manchester 2023:
Bennett takes two World Championship titles home
Canadian swimmer Nicholas Bennett reached the pinnacle of success at Manchester 2023 by clinching his second World Championship title. With a commanding lead of more than a body length, Bennett left his competition behind as he powered through the water and surged ahead of the pack. The 200m Individual Medley witnessed Bennett’s extraordinary performance, culminating in a triumphant gold medal win that placed him on top of the clouds of victory.
“I gave it all in the pool and was trying to get the WR or get as close to it as possible,” Nicholas told Canadian Paralympic Committee.
Nicholas swam to victory winning his first World Championship title in the Men’s S14 200m freestyle with a time of 1:54.75. Coached by his sister Hayley Bennett, Nicholas gives credit for his improved timing to his sister’s coaching,
“She is incredibly hard on me but it’s from a place of love and also she wants the best for me. I trust her wholeheartedly and you can see the examples of her coaching, I just dropped a whole second of my best time. So it’s working amazingly.”
Sister coach played a giant role in Hayley in brother’s success and feel proud of him.
“He is doing super well. For him, this year has been all about going back to basic like technical stuff that maybe he hasn’t done too much in the last little bit but yeah, it’s been our primary focus,” says Hayley.
World Record for Australia
Australia emerged as the new champions of the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay in an exhilarating relay race, showcasing remarkable teamwork and determination. Benjamin Hance’s impressive backstroke leg set the pace, maintaining the lead as Jake Michell, Paige Leonhardt, and Madeleine McTernan continued to shine. The team set a new World Record time of 4:07.71, securing a significant victory over the host nation and Brazil, who secured second and third places respectively.
Jessica-Jane Applegate, anchoring the British team and securing the Silver, shared her pride and emphasized the collective effort that contributed to the result. She mentioned, “It’s about how we come together as a team, and that time doesn’t reflect how good we are. I’m proud of everyone.”
Gold for Firth in 200m Individual Medley
Bethany Firth (GBR) showcased her unwavering determination, retaining her Women’s 200m Individual Medley title with a fantastic win over Japan’s Aira Kinoshita. Firth’s powerful backstroke leg, along with her compelling freestyle finish, earned her another well-deserved gold medal.
“This gold medal means so much, a lot of people don’t always see the work that goes on behind the scenes and I just want to thank all my support from back home, my coach, my family and my church,” Firth told British Swimming.
Reflecting on her victory, Firth expressed her gratitude and determination for future challenges, stating
“I really had to dig deep that last length and I think it makes the sport just so exciting when it’s like that but I’m just so happy I touched first. We’re working on a two-year program and this was a stepping stone on the journey so I’ve got a lot more to give come Paris next year.”
Yui-Lam wins first Gold for Hong Kong
An electrifying first 50m showcased Firth and Maskill turning within a mere tenth of a second of each other, occupying the first and second positions. Yui Lam Chan (HKG) was closely trailing, and as Maskill seemed to surge ahead in the second length, the swimmer from Hong Kong, China, responded to stay neck-and-neck. With a photo finish, Chan clinched victory by a mere two-hundredths of a second over Maskill.
With a radiant smile and a heart full of happiness, Poppy Maskill added another world silver medal to her remarkable collection at the conclusion of Manchester 2023. Speaking with exuberance to British Swimming, Maskill expressed her elation and shared her awe as she looked up at the board and realized the magnitude of her achievement.
“I feel really really good – I’m so happy with that. When I looked up at the board I could just think ‘oh wow’. Being around the team has been good, they’ve all given me little bits of advice to help me and it’ll be nice to celebrate with them tonight.”
Firth, who added another medal to her impressive tally, highlighted the exhilaration of competing in a “fun” event that turned out to be a delightful victory. Her performance underscores the enduring spirit of competition and the boundless possibilities that await, proving that age is no barrier to achieving greatness.
Gabriel Bandeira defends his Championship title
Gabriel Bandeira, a true powerhouse in the pool, claimed his first gold medal of the championship in the event he holds closest to his heart – the exhilarating 100m Butterfly. Demonstrating his exceptional prowess, Bandeira’s masterful butterfly strokes and a decisive turn propelled him to a commanding lead in the second 50 meters of the race.
With sheer determination and unmatched technique, Bandeira maintained his lead, showcasing his unwavering focus and unparalleled skill until he touched the wall in a triumphant finish
Hillhouse and Hance trailed closely behind Bandeira, earning their well-deserved spot on the podium.
Gold for 🇧🇷! 🎉
🥇Gabriel Bandeira grabs his second medal at #Manchester2023, the first gold, in the men’s 100m butterfly S14⌚️54.64
🥈Alexander Hillhouse 🇩🇰
🥉Benjamin Hance 🇦🇺
— #ParaSwimming (@Para_swimming) August 6, 2023
Full championship results can be accessed from Manchester 2023 website.