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Bethany joy after making it double World glory

 

Golden wonder: Bethany Firth and Jessica-Jane Applegate celebrate
Golden wonder: Bethany Firth and Jessica-Jane Applegate celebrate

By Joe Leavey

Bethany Firth is having the time of her life at the World Para Swimming Championships - and a second gold medal of the week has further boosted her spirits.

The 23-year-old starred as the home quartet of herself, Reece Dunn, Jessica-Jane Applegate and Thomas Hamer notched a thrilling world-record time of 3:42.21 in the mixed 4x100 freestyle relay at the London Aquatics Centre.

And Bethany, from Seaforde in Co Down, is simply savouring the team dynamic that carried them all the way to a stirring title.

"It's such an exciting event and we were all cheering each other on in the call room," she said. "It's great just to come together and race together, and I think we do really well as a team.

"It's great. Everyone's enjoying each other and pushing each other on. It's great to be in London with our home crowd, so it's just an amazing event."

In a brand-new event for the London Championships, the GB squad was decked with talent, with nine Paralympic medals split between their number.

But for a time it seemed as though they might miss out on top spot, until Dunn had his say - making up a 15m deficit in his final-leg swim to deliver the goods, something that did not surprise Applegate.

"I wasn't nervous because I know that he's an absolute animal; he's a chaser and he loves to race," she said. "He has been setting records here, there and everywhere. We had 100% confidence in putting him last."

Dunn himself added: "I don't know how I did it. We were 15m behind, so obviously I knew I had to put in a big effort.

"We knew we had a deficit, knew it was not going to be easy. We went in with a positive attitude and it paid off."

Yesterday, Barry McClements was the only Irish athlete in action during the heats on day five and just missed out on a place in the S9 400m freestyle final.

McClements produced a strong performance to finish in fourth place in his heat but missed out on a spot in the final by 0.05 of a second, the second time this week he has missed a final by less than half a second.

The 17-year-old Ards swimmer, who was the youngest in the pool, adopted a bold strategy.

McClements was second after 100m and even took the lead after the third length before falling back to second at the fourth turn and from there on he dropped to fourth place.

After missing five weeks with illness at the beginning of the summer, McClements was happy with his performance.

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