The two day Spanish autonomous disability swimming championships got underway this morning in Alcorcón, Madrid with swimmers from a number of countries participating, in addition to Spain’s best swimmers from all the different regions of Spain. Foreign delegations included Egypt, Austria, Russia, Andorra, Kazakstan, Greece, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. They swam before a crowd that easily numbered 200, and felt like it could have sat more had better and more seating been on offer.
While no United States swimmers were involved, in warm ups, you might not have known as at least two swimmers had swimsuits featuring American flags. There was another swimmer wearing Brazilian flag trunks despite being from Spain.
The first race of the day was the men’s 50 meter backstroke, with swimmers from various classifications swimming together. It got off to a rather unceremonious start, with a brief lull in noise, a whistle, swimmers getting into the water and the competition going. No sooner had one race finished than the whistle blew for swimmers to enter the water for the next race. Because swimmers of all classifications were in the water together, it was difficult for spectators to get a sense of how well swimmers were doing.
It was not until the seventh race that they began to announce what lanes swimmers were swimming in, as it did not match the stated program. S1 swimmers often do not compete at the Paralympic level, and seeing them in the pool, their times were slow compared to other classes, and they were easy to spot when competing against other classes.
Teresa Perales was in the pool for the 50 meter women’s backstroke, pumped her arms after him swim and appeared delighted with her performance. Following the backstroke, there was a pause before the 100 m men’s butterfly got underway. The first of the three races for this featured only swimmers from Hungary and Kazakhstan with those swimmers seeking qualifying times for the World Championships.
The first women’s 100 m backstroke had a fault, and the race started. One swimmer failed to hit the mark so the line was dropped in the water to let them know when they hit it.
Slippery pool decks sometimes meant for moments of swimmers hopping around while holding the arm of a coach. One or two of the blind swimmers also appeared a bit hesitant near the pool edge when walking with their guides.
Following this, there was another break before the start of the 200 me freestyle. The announcer sound was awful, and sometimes difficult to understand if a person had set a world record or is a reigning world record holder. Adding to this issue was the score board had issues. The limited information it had was then gone in the middle of the competition while they tried to fix it.
The first men’s 200 m freestyle race was supposed to have 8 swimmers in classes between S2 and S6, but only two of the lower swimmers were in the pool. The program rarely appeared to match who was in the pool. Following along did little good. With 6 series, they had a seventh that was not on the program, or miscounted. It ended with 7 series despite 6 on the program.
There was then a pause before the start of the women’s 200 m freestyle, with the first race featuring a Kazakh swimmer, Zulfiya Gabidullina, who had here own six or seven large cheering section with a large Kazakhstan flag. When she finished her swim, she looked happy with her performance and her supporters appeared the same. As she is a multi-record holder, she was here to qualify for the World and Rio. Her cheering section was made up of embassy staff and a journalist. The Kazaks have 6 swimmers competing.
Egyptian swimmer Ayallah Tewfick swam the 200 m freestyle and appeared happy with her swim. After the race, she spent a few minutes talking with the national team coach.
Before the start of the 100 m breaststroke, there was another break while people had a go at fixing the scoreboard. This delayed some of the races, with the scheduled start of the 100 m breaststroke at 11:07 AM local time, but it was delayed and delayed. At 11:45 AM, they handed out medals for the completed events.
Amongst the medalists were Teresa Perales and a swimmer from the Czech Republic in the women’s 50 m backstroke. One first place finisher missed his name being called, and was not there to collect it during the medal ceremony.
The scheduled 100 m breaststroke finally got underway at 12:01, almost an hour after it was supposed to. According to the mother of a gold medal winning Spanish female swimmer named Julia, this type of delay is normal at Spanish swimming competitions.
Despite the high quality of swimmers competing at this event, finishing first was not a guarantee that they set a world championship qualifying time. According to one person in attendance, the overall pace at this competition was just a little slow compared to what many of them are capable of doing.
During the men and women’s 100 m breaststroke, many of the people in the pool spectator area and on the deck left. There was one more event following this, and then the morning session ended.