2020 TOKYO SUMMER PARALYMPIC GAMES
- When: Pool swimming: Wednesday, August 25 – Friday, September 3, 2021
- Where: Olympic Aquatics Centre / Tokyo, Japan
- Heats: 9 AM / Finals: 5 PM (Local time)
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EXPLANATION OF PARA CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM
- There are 14 classifications for Paralympic swimmers, typically denoted as “S” followed by a number.
- “SB” designates an athletes classification for breaststroke events
- “SM” is for individual medley events
- Athletes with physical impairments are classified in S1-S10, SB1-SB9, and SM1-SM10 with numbers 1-10 ranging from more severe activity limitations to less severe limitations.
- Athletes with visual impairments are classified in S/SB11-13.
- Athletes with intellectual impairments are classified in S/SB14.
- The Paralympics are not the “Para Olympics” or anything similar. The International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee are separate organizations with separate leadership and separate events that happen to have a partnership to organize their crowned jewels more efficiently.
Last night, 15 events sounded off for the first preliminaries session of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Among the session highlights, three Paralympic records were taken down, all coming after a five-year hiatus since the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
Roughly an hour into the program, the S14 class for men’s 100 fly swam for the first time at a Paralympics. In heat one, Aussie Liam Schluter set the event’s first Paralympic record of 58.38. In the following heat, Brazilian Gabriel Bandeira sliced 1.6s off Schluter’s minutes-old Paralympic record at 56.78. Brit Reece Dunn was the third swimmer to set the men’s 100 fly Paralympic record, hitting the top finals seed time at 55.99. Dunn is the current event world record-holder at 54.46 from 2019.
American Lawrence Sapp qualified third into the event final at 56.97. Bandeira is seeded second in the final with his then-Paralympic record swim while Schluter placed 9th overall.
The S14 women’s 100 fly also was contested for the first time in a Paralympics. Hong Kong’s Yui Lam Chan set the first Paralympic record in the event at 1:07.20 in heat one. In the next heat, Valeria Shabalina of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) downed the mark by 1.83s to nail the top finals seed at 1:05.37. Lam Chan qualified third into the final. Shabalina’s world record stands at 1:03.68 from 2019.
The third event to see a Paralympic record was the S6 women’s 50 free, where American Elizabeth Marks downed the 2016 record at 33.16. Marks shaved three-tenths off her 33.46 entry time and was 0.38s off the 32.78 world record. Marks was the 2016 Rio Paralympic champion in the SB7 women’s 100 breast, which she will not swim this year.
The former Paralympic record of 33.29 was set in Rio 2016 by Ukrainian Yelyzaveta Mereshko, who is also the current S6 world record-holder. Mereshko placed second in prelims with a time of 33.51, three-tenths ahead of country-mate Anna Hontar (33.81).
More Prelims Highlights
Another swimmer that threatened a Paralympic record during prelims was Rowan Crothers. The Aussie swam 23.25 in the S10 men’s 50 free, which was 0.09s outside of the 2012 World and Paralympic record time of 23.16, set by Andre Brasil in his home country in Rio 2016. Swimming within the 23-range along with Crothers include Ukrainian Maksym Krypak (23.58), Brazilian Pa Melo Rodriguez (23.74), and Italian Stefano Raimondi (23.89).
In the S10 women’s 50 free, RPC’s Anastasiia Gontar came 0.11s within the 2016 World/Paralympic record time of 27.37. The current record-holder and defending Paralympic champion, Canada’s Aurelie Rivard, took second in prelims at 27.74, 0.037s behind Gontar.
Defending Paralympic champion in the S2 women’s 100 back, Yip Pin Xiu of Singapore, took the top finals seed by 18 seconds at 2:14.46. Pin Xiu holds the current S2 world record at 2:07.09 from the 2016 Paralympics.
Italian Efrem Morelli swam the fastest SB3 men’s 50 breast prelims time at 49.35, the only swimmer to break 50 seconds this session. Morelli holds the SB3 world record at 47.49 from 2019. He was also the 2016 Paralympic bronze medalist three years prior to his world record.
6-time gold medalist in Rio 2016, Belarus’ Ihar Boki, took the top S13 men’s 100 fly seed at 55.12, more than a second outside his own world record of 53.72 from May of this year. Rio event bronze medalist, Uzbekistan’s Muzaffar Tursunkhujaev, qualified 5th into the final at 57.73.
More Day One Top Prelims Seeds
- S9 men’s 400 free: Alexander Tuckfield (AUS), 4:14.26
- S9 women’s 400 free: Zsofia Konkoly (HUN), 4:44.74
- S2 men’s 100 back: Vladimir Danilenko (RPC), 2:02.07
- S13 women’s 100 fly: Carlotta Gilli (ITA), 1:04.16
- S5 men’s 200 free: Antoni Ponce Bertran (ESP), 2:33.73
- S5 women’s 200 free: Tully Kearny (GBR), 2:52.30