A fine haul of medals by island’s para-swimmers

Para-Swimming Isle of Man (l-r) Tom Callister, Ben Grainger, Letisha Ellis at the British Disability Championships

Para-Swimming Isle of Man (l-r) Tom Callister, Ben Grainger, Letisha Ellis at the British Disability Championships

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Isle of Man swimmers have contested several off-island competitions recently, notably the Amsterdam Cup and British Disability Championships.

The newly-formed Microgaming Para-Swimming Isle of Man team were competing at the British Disability Championships in Manchester.

The three team members, 12-year-old Ben Grainger, 15-year-old Tom Callister and 11-year-old Letisha Ellis, found themselves in tough company made up of more than 10 Paralympians from London 2012 as well as numerous world and British record holders.

Ben, an S10 swimmer with a condition called amniotic banding, is missing most of his left hand below his wrist, while Tom is an S9 swimmer with the same condition but affected from his right elbow. Letisha is an S15 category swimmer who wears dual cochlear implants, without which she is profoundly deaf.

For Ben, the job was to improve on his tally of medals from last year’s championships which included two gold. This was surpassed with his personal haul of medals that included three gold and two silver in the British 13-and-under category. The golds were claimed in the 100m freestyle, 50m freestyle and 100m butterfly, while the silvers arrived in the 400m freestyle and 100m breaststroke.

Tom, a relative latecomer to the sport, finished day one of his first championships with somewhat of a surprise bronze medal in the British 14-17 age group 200m individual medley to accompany his fourth and fifth places in 100m freestyle and 100m breaststroke.

Callister was discovered in a chance meeting while in a fun session at Western Swimming Pool with national coach Lee Holland. He has been competing for less than two years with Isle of Man Swimming and continues to make astounding progress.

Letisha had to be satisfied with improving personal best times in her events on the first day, with new standards that obliterated her previous bests by more than 10 seconds.

However, day two arrived and the pair of races across Sunday’s sessions saw more personal best times, only this time accompanied with silver medals in the British 13-and-under S15 400m freestyle and the 100m butterfly.

From the swim times recorded at the championships, both Ben and Tom have qualified to compete in Glasgow in April at the Team GB Rio 2016 Paralympic trials.

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