Aspen Shelton competes in freestyle. (Photo: Mark Reis)
Every other week we scour the web for the latest going on in the world of U.S. Para swimming. Here’s what you missed!
Social Media Roundup
The Instagram feeds of U.S. Para swimmers were recently with the type of content that has been all too rare over the past year: Photos of swimmers in and around actual pools, actually competing. The 2021 Para Swimming World Series stop in Lewisville, Texas was the first one in a long while for Team USA, and their last one before the all-important U.S. Paralympic Team Trials for Swimming get underway in Minneapolis in June. All swimmers had one thing in common — overwhelming excitement to be back in the pool.
“Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make the WPS-Lewisville meet possible,” said Hannah Aspden,“and for giving us all the opportunity to race and come together as a team again! It was wonderful catching up with old friends (and making new ones watching some very impressive performances in the pool.”
“First time back enjoying the water,” said Ellie Marks, who set an American record in the 50-meter butterfly. “We came home with some records and great swims as a team.”
U.S. swimmers evaluated their results while keeping an eye on the next big goal: Qualifying for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“Had a great time in Lewisville last week at the WPS World Series,” said Martha Ruether.“After a long 14 months, it was great to get back to racing! Ready for the final push to our second part of the Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Trials in June!”
As Morgan Ray noted, Trials will be here before you know it.
“One down, one to go. Got about 8 weeks to recover, reset, and continue training. Then I'll be heading over to Minneapolis for U.S. Paralympic Trials.”
A full list of results from Lewisville is available here.
Evan Austin was featured in an interview with World Para Swimming talking about his impressive triple gold medal performance at the World Series.
Morgan Stickney was featured by Forbes magazine, discussing her training regimen during the postponement of the Paralympic Games.
A few of Team USA’s visually impaired swimmers posted in recognition of World Blind Sports Day on April 24 including McClain Hermes and Aspen Shelton. And Anastasia Pagonis was featured in a post from the International Paralympic Committee talking about how she competes with the help of a tapper.
In the News
Becca Meyers was featured by the Foundation Fighting Blindness in a video interview sharing her story. The Foundation Fighting Blindness is dedicated to driving research for conditions like retinitis pigmentosa, which is the source of Meyers’ partial blindness. Meyers talked in part about serving as a role model for any young person with a visual impairment.
“I try to use my social media to show young kids that just because you have a disability does not mean you are limited,” she said in her interview. “You just have to find that one thing that makes you feel free and go for it. I want to be a role model to these kids and inspire them to not let their disabilities hold them back. You can do anything you set your mind to.”
Among the many U.S. Para swimmers who took part in the World Series in Lewisville, David Abrahams’ performance was featured by The Coronado Times out of Coronado, California. Abrahams is a member of the Coronado Swim Association’s elite team and also competes for Harvard University. Abrahams broke an American record in the 100-meter breaststroke in Lewisville.
A sure sign that the Paralympic Games are just around the corner is the staging of test events, and one for Para swimming was conducted in Tokyo on April 26. Fifty athletes took part in the event, which was not only evaluating the usability of the Tokyo Aquatics Center but also evaluating health and safety protocols for the COVID-19 pandemic. Athletes all had to undergo PCR testing and body temperature checks prior to competing. Officials also posed as media for simulated interviews to test social distancing measures. More tests in other sports are scheduled throughout the summer leading up to the Games.