Fox on form on opening night in Sheffield

Paralympic champion Jonathan Fox took a step towards the defense of his World title with gold on the opening night of the British International Disability Swimming Championships 2013 in Sheffield.

Having led qualifying with a 1:10.53 effort in the morning heats, the 21-year old clocked 1:11.29 for victory in the final, scoring 941 points for his time.

The Netherlands’ S14 Paralympic champion Marc Evers was second in 1:03.45 (926 pts) while Great Britain’s James Crisp – who won S9 Paralympic silver at London 2012 – was third in 1:04.10 (894 pts).

But there was no stopping the S7 world record holder from retaining his title in Sheffield and sailing more three seconds under the qualification time for the 2013 IPC World Championships in Montreal. Fox said:

“I went a 1:11 in the final which was slower than this morning but I wanted to get the qualifying time in the heat so I could just have fun for the rest of the week,”

Fox set his world record 1:09. 86 to win Paralympic gold by more than a second at London 2012.

"I’ve got the 400 Freestyle to look forward to tomorrow and I’m going to try my best over the week and enjoy it. If I’d have swum that 1:10 from the heats at London, I would’ve still won gold so that’s really good to base this competition off and I’m really pleased with that time. It might seem like there was nothing to improve on from London but there’s always things you can improve like your stroke rate, your technique and your turns so I’m going to tweak those little things and hopefully I can give my world record a good run for its money in Montreal.”

S7 Paralympic champion Josef Craig will hope to finish ahead of Fox in tomorrow’s 400m Free and the 15-year old warmed up for his main event with MC 100m Freestyle victory in Sheffield.

Having qualified fastest for the final, Craig clocked 1:02.90 (883 pts) to secure the title ahead of Finland’s S9 swimmer Leo Lahteenmaki in 58.07 (864 pts) and Fox in 1:03.65 (852 pts). Craig said:

“It was a good swim for me to win gold,”

Craig fell 0.17 of the ‘A’ qualification time for the World Champs.

“I lowered my time from the heats which is important. My training has been improving coming into this meet and my times are gradually getting back towards my PBs. Hopefully by Canada I will be right there and breaking a few more records."

Amy Marren landed her first senior MC title with 100m Freestyle gold in Sheffield.

Having already set a personal best in the heats, the 14-year old S9 swimmer lowered her best again to win gold in the final, clocking 1:03.88 (874 pts) for victory ahead of  S12 swimmer Hannah Russell in 1:01.25 (867 pts) and S9 swimmer Stephanie Millward (S9) in 1:05.24 (821 pts).

Less than an hour later, Marren was back in the water, setting another personal best to claim 100m Backstroke bronze in 1:11.20 (922 pts) behind the Netherland’s Marlou Van Der Kulk (S14) in 1:07.43 (988 pts) and GB’s S14 swimmer Chloe Davies in a British record 1:08.81 (930 pts).

And having ducked under the IPC World Championship qualification time in both events, Marren insisted she couldn’t have hoped for more from the opening day of the meet. Marren, who made her international debut at London 2012 last year said:

“This time last year, I wasn’t making the medals so to be standing on top of the podium here feels amazing. It’s a relief to get the qualification times out of the way on the first day but I still know there’s a job to be done in my other events. There’s a bit less pressure in terms of qualifying but I want more now so there’s a little bit more pressure in that respect. I’ve been being a lot more positive this year. The Games was an inspiration for me to keep training and keep going hard and I’m really enjoying my swimming at the moment.”

Andrew Mullen also landed his first senior MC title at this level with victory in the MC 50m Backstroke.

The 16-year old broke his S5 British record in both heats and finals, ultimately lowering it to 39.30 to secure the qualification time for his first IPC World Championships. He said:

“I’m really pleased with my first gold. It was a world class field like all the other events here so to beat guys who’ve been to a lot of Paralympics and major meets is great. This is my main event this year so it was really good to get straight in and get the qualification time in the heats. It meant I could enjoy the final and just race it without thinking about time. I’m getting much more experienced now and after the Paralympics I feel like I’m able to cope with the pressure of big meets a lot better. All of that is helping my performance.”

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