First World Series season in Paralympic year kicks off in Melbourne
The fourth edition of the World Para Swimming World Series gets underway on Friday (14 February) in Melbourne, Australia. This is the first time the competition is being held in a Paralympic year.
Melbourne is hosting the season-opener for the second consecutive year and around 70 world-class Para swimmers from 16 countries will be in action until Sunday at Melbourne Sports Centre - MSAC.
Australia’s finest Para swimmers will feature in the tournament with the likes of recent World Champions Tiffany Thomas Kane (class S7 swimmer) and Lakeisha Patterson (S9) battling it out against their compatriots and international rivals for the top spot.
USA and New Zealand have the biggest teams among the visitors with the North Americans bringing London 2019 World Champions Leanne Smith (S3), Evan Austin (S7) and Robert Griswold (S8).
Nine-time Paralympic champion Sophie Pascoe (S9) and three-time Paralympic champion Leslie Cameron (S4) lead the NZ delegation. Pascoe has just received the Halberg Awards – the country’s most important sport accolade – in the Para athlete/team category.
After a fantastic 2019 with four gold medals at the World Championships and five at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games, Mexico’s S3 swimmer Diego Lopez Diaz begins the new season as one of the stars in the water.
Another current World Champion making a season debut is Israel’s Mark Malyar (S7).
“This competition marks an important step on the calendar – it’s the first chance for our athletes to race against strong international competition in 2020, so they need to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Swimming Australia’s General Manager for Paralympic and Open Water Programmes, Olympic champion Adam Pine.
The Melbourne 2020 World Series is organised by Swimming Australia and Swimming Victoria in conjunction with World Para Swimming and Paralympics Australia.
Spanning five months from February to June, the World Series will travel to six countries instead of the initial seven – following the cancellation of the Singapore leg scheduled in May.
The best female and best male swimmers will be picked for the World Series awards at the end of the season on the basis of their rankings.
All athletes' results at each World Series edition are calculated using a standardised World Para Swimming points system.
This ensures that the overall World Series winner will be the best performing athlete over the duration of the series, meaning that every performance counts.
Great Britain’s Alice Tai and Spain’s Antoni Ponce claimed the women’s and men’s World Series titles in 2019, respectively.
USA’s Leanne Smith secured the women’s S/SB 1-3 High Support Needs title while Chile’s Alberto Abarza took the men’s trophy.
Great Britain also won the National Paralympic Committee title and the junior female and male categories with Maisie Summers-Newton and Louis Lawlor, respectively.
Melbourne 2020 will be streamed live on World Para Swimming's website. https://www.paralympic.org/swimming
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