Robinson and Applegate among national champions as world records tumble
Christmas came early for Ellie Robinson and Jessica-Jane Applegate as they saw out 2017 with three world records apiece at the National Para Swimming Championships.
In total, Great Britain’s swimming stars set 14 world and 22 European records at the meet in Manchester, with 72 new personal bests also accomplished.
But the championships belonged to Rio 2016 medallists Robinson and Applegate, with five-time Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds making her return to competition following a year out of the water.
Robinson, who won S6 50m butterfly gold in Rio, broke her first record in the S6 100m freestyle, touching the wall in a time of 1:15.12 – just over two seconds quicker than previous holder Simmonds’ time.
She then went on to clock 34.22 seconds in the 50m freestyle, before a time of 35.99 seconds in the 50m butterfly completed her hat-trick of world records.
Yet despite being just 16 herself, Robinson hopes she can inspire the next group of S6 swimmers coming up through the ranks – just as Simmonds did to her in years gone by.
“Last year was all about school and GCSEs, but this year I’ve been able to concentrate on swimming, so I am really pleased with my racing,” Robinson told British Swimming.
“It’s really nice to see a lot more S6 swimmers. If I can inspire at least one into the sport, then I’ll be really happy.
“It’s funny to think that some of the swimmers look up to me like I did with Ellie, and it’s quite humbling.”
It proved a weekend to remember too for Applegate, as she also set three new world records in the S14 class.
The first came in the 100m freestyle with a time of 57.86 seconds, before she touched the wall in a time of 1:05.02 to break the record in the 100m butterfly. Her trio of titles were completed in the 200m freestyle, setting a new record of 2:03.71.
Elsewhere, Paralympic silver medallist Tom Hamer couldn’t have asked for a better end to his 2017 as he targets success at next year’s Commonwealth Games and European Championships.
The 19-year-old clinched a world record of his own in the S14 100m freestyle, stopping the clock in 52.08 seconds.
“I’m pretty happy with my races and the meet’s gone really well – especially the world time,” he said.
“Next year it’s the Commonwealth Games and the Europeans in Ireland, so training is looking good for that too.
“I now have two weeks off for Christmas. I’m going on holiday so it will be great to have a break and come back rested for the big year ahead.”
There were further world records for Rio medallists Abby Kane and Alice Tai, coming in the S13 and S9 backstroke respectively.
And while Simmonds may not have been among those setting new global times, the 23-year-old insists she is full of motivation to get herself back among the medals – despite almost calling it quits.
“Earlier this year I was thinking about retirement but I wanted to give it another shot,” she said.
“Something clicked in me and even though it’s been a shock to wake up early again, if I don’t make the Europeans next year, at least I’ve given it a go.”