Saturday, February 19, 2022

Shaw strikes gold, Lawlor silver on penultimate day in Aberdeen

Toni Shaw dropped almost six seconds from her heat time to secure gold in MC 400m freestyle World Series Final, while Louis Lawlor closed in on his PB for 200m freestyle to take silver, on the penultimate day of competition at the Para Swimming World Series Inc. British Para-Swimming Meet in Aberdeen.

S9 athlete Shaw, who won is the Paralympic bronze medallist for the event, kept on the shoulder of Ireland’s Roisin Ni Riain for the duration of the race. While S13 swimmer Ni Riain came home in front, Shaw’s time of 4:44.35 provided a superior points total (798) and it was Shaw who won gold. Ni Riain finished with the bronze medal (765 points), with GBR’s Maisie Summers-Newton (S6) taking the silver with 777 points.

After the final, Shaw, who is coached by Josh Williamson at the University of Stirling, said of her performance,

“I’m quite happy with that swim. I’ve actually been training more for the 100 free for the Commonwealth Games and the 200 IM. I was quite nervous beforehand thinking ‘I’ve not done enough to do this,’ but I kind of just dived in and it felt OK. I’m really happy with that.”

Speaking about the event and what it means to her winning a Paralympic medal in Tokyo, Shaw said,

“I trained literally for a whole year for this event, so I think it’s quite nice to have a different focus for a bit but obviously still race it. I think I’ll get back to training for it more next year and hopefully I’ll be able to go quicker.”

Shaw still considers the pool in Aberdeen her home pool, despite moving away last September to take up a place at the University of Stirling to study Business, she said,

“This is such a great pool, and being back here at what I still consider my home pool is so special. I’ve seen Conner (Morrison) who I used to train with everyday and I’ve enjoyed a good catch up with Gregor (former coach Gregor McMillan). And of course it is great to be home for a few days, it feels special.

“I really like Stirling. There’s more responsibility on doing everything for myself. I was kind of expecting a bit of a drop in my performance, and that did happen, I didn’t race as fast for a while, but to be back here racing close to my PB gives me confidence in what I’m doing. I love training there and being happy definitely helps you swim faster.”

In the MC National 400m freestyle final, Carnegie’s Katie Pake continued her busy schedule, finishing 10th.

In the Men’s 400m freestyle World Series Final, Shaw’s Stirling teammate, Oliver Carter (S10), finished strongly for a fourth-place finish, missing out on a medal by only 5 points. Again, with an upcoming Commonwealth Games, Carter has had to switch focus to a different event this year, and said,

“I’m really chuffed with that performance, exhausted but chuffed! I’ve not really done huge amounts of training for that event but Josh (Williamson, coach) and I have a huge history of working with the 400 free so we have a lot of data and stuff to fall back on. It was just a case of knowing I had plenty of knowledge in the event and I thought I executed that brilliantly.”

Speaking about his focus turning to the fly event, Carter continued,

“For the first time in my life I feel properly nervous for a swim. Usually when I’m aiming for stuff I either know I’m fully capable of it because I’ve done it in training, or I’ve done it in other competitions. Or I know the time I need to do and I’ve gone faster before so know I can do it. But for this fly I’ve never done the time I need to do for the Commonwealth Games. I’m right on the verge, I can either make it or I can’t. So, for the first time, I’ve got proper pressure. I’m loving it though and I want to do really well and I’m sure I will, but I’m genuinely I’m nervous for the race.”

East Lothian Swim Team’s Sam Downie put in another strong performance and finished 10th.

Louis Lawlor (S14, City of Glasgow Swim Team) also highlighted how much work he has been putting into the 200m freestyle, an event he doesn’t often race at this level. In the World Series Final he put in a superb final 50m to clinch the silver medal, behind ParalympicsGB teammate, Jordan Catchpole. Catchpole won the event in 2:003.31 (815 points), while Lawlor finished just shy of his personal best in 2:01.81 (785 points). George Kelman-Johns ensured it was a GBR 1-2-3 coming home in 2:02.81 (766 points).

Lawlor was delighted with his performance and said,

“That felt absolutely amazing, such a big improvement from this morning. I was determined to do well this evening so just kept my head down and raced right to the wall to finish strongly.”

Speaking about his change of focus from backstroke to freestyle, Lawlor continued,

“For my category (S14) at the Commonwealth Games there is no 100m back, which is obviously my main event; instead there’s a 200m freestyle so once I came back from Tokyo Ian (Wright, Head Coach City of Glasgow Swim Team) told me the focus would be the 200m free to make the Games. It’s a challenge but definitely a good push to race alongside the likes of Jordan (Catchpole), Tom (Hamer) and Reece (Dunn). They all encourage me and help me along the way to improve as much as possible.”

Jack Milne (Dundee City Aquatics), Scott Quin (Edinburgh University) and Gavin Roberts (City of Glasgow Swim Team), finished in 7th, 8th and 9th place respectively.

In the MC 200m freestyle National Final, Dylan Bleakley (East Lothian Swim Team) and Matthew Scott (Bridge of Don) finished in 4th and 6th place respectively. In the Women's MC 200m freestyle National Final, Cerys Venters-Scott (Carnegie) finished 2nd, with Amy MacFarlane (Motherwell & Wishaw) and Cerys McCrindle (South Ayrshire Swim Team) finishing 4th and 6th respectively.

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.