Young Paralympic stars prepare for Junior Swimming Championships

EFDS logoOver 200 disabled swimmers will take to the pool this weekend for the DSE National Junior and Youth Swimming Championships. The event, held at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre in Sheffield, is an annual opportunity for the nation’s best youngsters to compete over a 25m short course.

World champions Jessica-Jane Applegate MBE, Josef Craig MBE, Hannah Russell and Amy Marren feature in the start list for this year’s event. Collectively they have won numerous medals on the international stage and broken many records in their success.

Among the stars competing at this year’s Championships is 15 year old Amy Marren (Romford Town SC). One of the youngest athletes in the ParalympicsGB team, Amy competed in London 2012 at just 14. Although she missed out on a medal in London, Amy emerged as a talent to be noted at the IPC World Championships in 2013. She took home gold medals in the S9 100m butterfly, SM9 200m individual medley, 4x100m Medley Relay (34pts) and the 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay (34pts).

Ahead of the event this weekend, Amy said:

“The things I like most about these championships is seeing my friends, and meeting new swimmers coming through the rankings. It is often the first competition for many disabled swimmers and so gives them a great opportunity to build confidence in areas where they didn’t think they had it.”

Amy hopes this weekend inspires others to develop their talent:

“Sometimes when you see a new swimmer get a medal, the look on their face is priceless. Having been in that position myself, it really does mean so much to be recognised for your swimming.”

Paralympic gold medallist and World Champion Josef Craig MBE will also be competing. Now 17, he was ParalympicGB’s youngest gold medallist at London 2012 at the age of 15 and later that year was awarded the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. Josef said:

“I’m really looking forward to the weekend as it’s my last year as a junior and I really enjoy seeing the new talent coming through. It’s great seeing the youngsters’ excitement as I know exactly what it feels like. I have photos of myself as an 11 year old with David Roberts and Ellie Simmonds at this event and it really helps spur you on. Personally, I am hoping to get some good swims and maybe some personal bests.”

The Championships have been organised for many years by Disability Sport Events (DSE) in partnership with British Swimming. DSE is an English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) programme, which delivers a range of participation opportunities from grassroots to international standard. Barry Horne, Chief Executive for EFDS said:

“We are very proud to be organising this event and provide more of these opportunities through this programme. The DSE Junior and Youth Swimming Championship is a key pathway for international success and provide disabled swimmers with an opportunity to develop their talent. Welcoming so many competitors this weekend is testament to the amount of work at grassroots level to introduce new swimmers and grow participation.”

Spectators can attend free of charge during any of the three sessions. Details are as follows:

  • Event: National Junior and Youth Swimming Championships 2014
  • Venue: Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield
  • Saturday 1 March Session one- 9am-midday. Session two- 2pm-5pm
  • Sunday 2 March Session three- 9am- 1pm

The Championships are run with thanks to ongoing support from British Swimming, Sheffield City Council and Copiertec. DSE relies on sponsorship and fundraising to deliver the successful events programme.

Full results will be available on www.efds.co.uk. Follow the event tweets on #juniorswim2014

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