Four Storylines To Watch At The 2022 World Para Swimming Championships

2022 World Para Swimming Championships

The 2022 Para World Swimming Championships will get underway on Sunday from the Penteada Swimming Complex in Madeira, Portugal, the same site as both the 2016 and 2020 IPC European Open Championships.

The event will run for seven days, June 12-18, with several intriguing storylines to keep an eye on throughout the competition. Here are our top four:

How Will The Russian Absence Affect The Medal Table?

At the last edition of the World Para Championships in London in 2019, Italy put up a staggering 20 gold and 50 total medals to lead the final tally at the competition, with host Great Britain a close second with 19 gold and 47 total medals.

In terms of sheer number of medals, it was actually Ukraine who led the way with 55 (17 gold), while Russia followed with 18 gold, 54 total medals.

At the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) again made a massive impact with 17 gold and 49 total medals, trailing only China, which led the way with 19 gold and 56 medals.

Now, in 2022, both the Russians and Belarusians won’t be in attendance, leading to the question of how that will impact the medal table.

If RPC and Belarus weren’t in attendance in Tokyo, the Australians would’ve benefitted the most in terms of being upgraded to gold medals, most specifically Timothy Hodge (S9), who won two silver medals and one bronze but would’ve had three gold if we remove Russia and Belarus from the meet.

And while Belarus doesn’t produce the massive medal total that Russia typically does, the country does have one of the top Para swimmers in the world, Ihar Boki, who won six titles at the 2019 Worlds and five more in Tokyo. His absence will be felt in the men’s S13 category, opening the door for someone new to breakthrough.

Young Stars Emerge

There are a ton of up-and-coming names on the rise in Para swimming, many of whom will be making their World Championship debut after a successful Paralympic campaign in 2021.

Among them is American Anastasia Pagonis, a social media star with 2.4 million followers on TikTok.

In the pool, the 19-year-old is coming off a gold medal victory in the women’s 400 freestyle S11 at Tokyo 2020, having set a new world record in the process. She also won bronze in the 200 IM SM11, and comes into Madeira looking to make an impact on the World Championship stage.

Another rising name in the sport is 20-year-old Brazilian Gabriel Araujo, who won a pair of golds in Tokyo in the men’s 50 and 200 freestyle S2 and added a silver in the 50 back.

Like Pagonis, he’ll be making his Worlds debut and has taken over the Brazilian mantle left by countryman Daniel Dias, who announced his retirement following the Tokyo Paralympics.

Unlike Pagnois and Araujo, Great Britain’s Maisie Summers-Newton will not be making her World Championship debut, but at 19, is another name to watch out for both in the coming week and in the years to come.

Summers-Newton is the reigning Paralympic, World and European champion in the women’s 200 IM SM6, having won the latter when she was just 16. In Tokyo, she also won the 100 breast SB6, and is coming off a five-medal effort at the Para World Series event in Aberdeen earlier this year.

While not quite as young as the others at 22, Dutchman Rogier Dorsman is still relatively young in the sport and has steadily progressed throughout his career. After two bronzes at the 2018 Euros and then two gold and two silver at the 2019 Worlds, Dorsman picked up three golds in Tokyo. Keep an eye on him in the men’s S11 category.

Veterans Hold Firm

44-time World Championship medalist Jessica Long won’t be competing, but two other veteran swimmers to keep tabs on in Madeira will be Japan’s Takayuki Suzuki and Singapore’s Yip Pin Xiu.

Suzuki made his Paralympic debut all the way back in 2004 and hadn’t won a medal at the competition since Beijing in 2008 when he exploded for a five-medal haul on home soil in Tokyo, including his first career Paralympic gold in the men’s 100 free S4.

With 11 Worlds medals to his name, but just one gold, he’ll have the opportunity to carry his momentum from Tokyo into Madeira and add to his tally.

Yip is another accomplished athlete in the sport, having won two medals apiece in Beijing (2008), Rio (2016) and Tokyo (2020), five of the six being gold.

The first-ever Singaporean medalist at the Paralympics, Yip will be making her sixth World Championship appearance at the age of 30. In Tokyo, she was victorious in the women’s 50 and 100 backstroke S2, the same events she won in Rio.

Alice Tai Returns

Great Britain’s Alice Tai won seven gold medals on her home turf at the 2019 World Para Championships in London, but was forced to sit out of Tokyo 2020.

Born with bilateral talipes, the pain in Tai’s right foot increased, leading her to have her leg amputated in January 2022. Madeira will be her first event since the procedure.

The 23-year-old has put no expectations on her herself, just looking to enjoy herself and get back to racing. Listen to her speak below:

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2 years ago

I believe Jessica Long shared on her instagram that she won’t be competing at Worlds.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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