Sunday, February 20, 2022

Clegg storms to butterfly gold on final night in Aberdeen

Stephen Clegg brought the curtain down on a thrilling Para Swimming World Series Inc. British Para-Swimming Meet, coming just 0.05 seconds shy of his own world record for 100m butterfly to claim gold for GBR.

Clegg S12, who won silver in Tokyo for the event, dominated the race from start to finish, powering into the wall to take World Series Gold in a time of 56.80 (997 points). Robert Isak Jonsson S14 (Iceland) won silver in 59.54 (765 points) with GBR’s James Hollis S10 taking bronze in 59.86 (740 points).

Clegg said of his performance,

“I’m absolutely thrilled with that. I’ve been saying all the way through that I’ve not done much training going into this meet, it’s been more about the mental preparation and mental well-being after Tokyo. But to still do swims like that with only a reasonable amount of training but nowhere near the intensity I was doing pre-Tokyo obviously, I’m really pleased and it’s a really good base mark for the next two and a half years.

“I think that’s a bit of redemption for me to be honest; after Tokyo I was very disappointed with the results I did. I broke the world record a few months out from the Games, but I was quite a bit off it on the day in the final in Tokyo and I was pretty gutted. And that’s where a lot of the last six months have been focussed on, getting me and my headspace ready and in a place where I’m happy to race again. And I’m just getting back to the core enjoyment of training, it’s sparked a new love for swimming again and it’s showing in the results and my times. All weekend I’ve been close to my best times so I’m in a pretty good place right now.”

Oliver Carter S10 (University of Stirling) finished 6th in the final. Not only did his time of 1:04.62 break his own Scottish Record, but with the event being included in the Commonwealth Games, there was a bigger prize at stake. He said,

“I’m so, so happy. Not even relieved. Of course there’s relief in that’s the time that Josh (Williamson, coach) and I set out to do and to hopefully give the Commonwealth Games Council reason to invite me to compete in Birmingham. There’s relief, but I’m more happy that there’s such a decent chunk off my PB, that’s almost a full second faster than I’ve previously gone and it feels amazing.”

Jack Milne S14 (Dundee City Aquatics) continued his run of finals, to finish 9th in 1:05.78 (567 points).

In the MC 100m butterfly National final Dylan Bleakley S14 (East Lothian Swim Team) and Matthew Scott S14 (Bridge of Don) finished 6th and 7th respectively.

Toni Shaw continued her medal run with another fine performance in the MC 100m butterfly World Series Final, finishing strongly in the last 25m to hit the wall in 1:08.41 (761 points). GBR’s Poppy Maskill S14 took gold in 1:09.45 (767 points) with Brock Whiston S8 securing a GBR 1-2-3. Whiston’s time of 1:17.02 gave her 694 points for the event.

Shaw said of her performance,

“I’m really happy with that, it’s faster than I went in Tokyo so really pleased. I still need to work on being a bit faster over the first 50m, but only felt I was dying in the last 15m rather than the last 25m so that’s good!

“I just absolutely love this competition and it has been so fun. It’s also my first big competition with Stirling and I’ve had my teammate Abby (Kane) staying with me at home and that’s made it so much fun. But I’ve also posted some decent times and hope from here at my next competition I can move things on again.”

In the MC 100m butterfly National final Natalia Chociaj (Aberdeen Dolphins) broke the S13 Scottish Record on her way to victory, touching home in a time of 1:21.21.

For visually impaired athletes, including Natalia, Abby Kane and Stephen Clegg, the 50m freestyle is an opportunity to put down times ahead of the Commonwealth Games, with the World Ranking database being used to allocate the top seven places for the event.

Abby Kane S13 (University of Stirling) finished 11th overall in the World Series Final with a time of 30.97 (638 points). She said of her race,

“I’m a lot happier with this performance over that of this morning and I’m happy to be back in the 30. mark. It shows improvement and some progress in my training. It’s been nice to compete with my coach, we’ve not had many opportunities to do that yet and I feel I’m definitely showing growth in my swimming and in myself.”

Speaking about the change of focus from backstroke to freestyle, Kane said,

“This year there is more of a focus on the freestyle because of the Commonwealth Games and I will let my backstroke rest for a while. I think with my backstroke I did peak at a young age and in the past couple of years I’ve had a lot of changes, changes in my body and moving away from home. Taking a break from backstroke will help my motivation and I won’t get down in the dumps if I don’t swim well. And when I do come back to it, I can just start from scratch and develop it again.”

In the MC 50m freestyle National final, Natalia Chociaj S13 (Aberdeen Dolphins), Tegan Davidson S6 (Huntly) and Emma Imrie S10 (South Ayrshire Swim Team),  finished 2nd, 6th and 10th respectively. Chociaj will travel to Berlin next month for international classification and competition.

In the men’s MC 50m freestyle National final, Sam Downie S8 (East Lothian Swim Team) continued a very busy meet best, finishing 8th.

The racing is being streamed live on the British Swimming Facebook and YouTube pages. The action can be followed ac

Results from the meet can be found HERE.