Reflection – My experience at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London
This week is the European Week of Sport (23-30 September). It’s an annual event in which a week is dedicated to highlighting sport activity and events across Europe. The campaign runs over 50,000 events across 42 countries.
In reflection of my time in London and to mark the European Week of Sport, I thought I would write a little about my experience at the Para Swimming Championships that took place from Monday September 9th to Sunday September 15th.
As one of the many sporting events I have attended in my life it goes without saying that the Para Swimming Championships was the most surreal. This was my first experience at a Paralympic or Olympic event and I had never visited any Olympic park. Back home I am only a few hours from the historic Lake Placid, NY most notably known for hosting the 1980 Winter Olympics where the ‘miracle on ice’ occurred. Being a big sport fan, any sort of sporting event is something that I would enjoy.
As the first few races took place, my heart was pounding just as much as everyone else’s in the London Aquatics Centre. In just a few hours I witnessed history happen a few times. The most incredible moment however was watching three British Athletes (S14 class), Reece Dunn taking gold, Tom Hamer (a UKSA Ambassador and My Sport My Voice! Ambassador) taking silver, and Jordan Catchpole taking bronze. Reece Dunn broke a personal best, and world record. The place erupted in cheers, Perry and I were astonished at the pace that Reece had set for the field.
This event was specifically special because I had never attended an event of this scale before. Each race before and after that one I had been paying close attention to the classifications for the swimmers. I have been researching the specifics on intellectual impairment (S14 for swimmers) since starting at UKSA and have been gaining insight to the process of becoming classified.
There seemed to be a complex pattern of physical impairment classification, including visual impairment for which the competition allowed there to be a tapper on either end of the pool to tell the swimmer where to perform their flip turn. I thought this innovation to the sport of swimming was one that required lots of creativity and thought. Such an incredible innovation to swimming makes me think about what the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and others are involved in to continue developing this worldwide system to make sport more inclusive for athletes with all disabilities. Lots more to research!
At the end of the event, I was still astonished by Reece’s accomplishments, along with many others that broke world records that evening at the London Aquatics Centre. I cannot wait to follow the Paralympics in Tokyo next summer. I hope that all of the British swimmers who qualify for their respective events do really well in one of the biggest sporting events in the World!
For more information about the European Week of Sport click here.
For a recap and results from London 2019 Para Swimming Championships, click here.
Avi Zucker is the Communications and Sports intern at the UK Sports Association until December 2019. He is from New Jersey in the United States, and studies Business Administration at Ithaca College. In London he is continuing his studies and is enjoying his time at UKSA so far and looks forward to the experiences that are yet to come.
For more information about Ithaca College and their Business Administration program, click here.