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25 Jul 2006

Five of Wales’ top disabled swimmers have reached the qualifying standard for the IPC Swimming World Championships to be held in South Africa in December.

David Roberts MBE in the pool

The first set of trials took place at the DSE Long Course event at Ponds Forge International, Sheffield, last weekend (8th and 9th July, 2006), with over 300 swimmers from 19 countries competing in the event.

It gives British swimmers a first chance to set times to clinch their places on the GB team in December’s World Championships in Durban, South Africa.

Official confirmation of the GB Team will be announced on August 7th following a second set of trials.

The weekend’s event ran on a heats and finals basis for the first time in the competition’s history and provided ample opportunity for race preparation ahead of the World Championships.

Of Wales World Class Performers, Pontypridd’s seven-time Paralympic Gold Medallist, David Roberts MBE qualified on form, with Liz Johnson (Newport), Nyree Lewis (Porth-Rhondda) and Rhiannon Henry (Bridgend) each following suit.

Kate Arnold, one of Newport’s upcoming young swimmers and a potential World Class performer, also set a qualifying time in her first and strongest event, the 100m SB8 Breastroke.

Parlaympic champion Gareth Duke was also back in action after undergoing a kidney transplant earlier this year. The Cwmbran swim star now has a steely eye affixed on next month’s trials – another ASA long course event at the same pool - once he is fully fit and well.

Beyond Wales’ pool of funded athletes, a handful of promising results came from the Federation for Disability Sport Wales’ (FDSW) young Academy Swimmers, some of whom are likely to be potential medal holders at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Sam Chamberlain (Buckley) set a personal best in the 400m freestyle. The youngster has only just returned from the European Deaf Swimming Championships in Greece, where he reached the final of the 1500m freestyle and took an overall 7th place in his first international competition.

David Vaughan (Swansea) gave a strong performance and is set to go with the GB Learning Disability Squad to Hungary for the European Swimming Championships.

Other personal bests came from Jack Thomas (Swansea) and Scott Brown (Bridgend).

Gerwyn Owen, the Swimming Development Officer for Disability Sport Wales, is excited by the long-term potential of Wales’ performances:

"As well as being pleased for the Performance and Potential swimmers in gaining the standards to be considered for the World Championships Team, I am more pleased at the improvement of my Academy Swimmers.

"With the success of Athens and hopefully Beijing, my main concern is that we will have a strong contingent of Welsh swimmers on the GB team competing in the London 2012 Paralympics."