Harby swimmer Andy Banks secures world medal double

Andy Banks and his world championships medal haul EMN-160308-123251002

Andy Banks and his world championships medal haul EMN-160308-123251002

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Swimming ace Andy Banks added two world championship medals to his illustrious international career.

Banks was representing Great Britain at his fifth Down Syndrome World Swimming Championships, held in Florence last month.

Andy with Great Britain team-mates EMN-160308-123223002

Andy with Great Britain team-mates EMN-160308-123223002

This year’s event were incorporated into the new Down Syndrome World Games and were a major part of the inaugural showpiece.

A total of 30 countries took part in the five-day championships with Australia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico all sending large teams to Italy.

Banks was entered in the 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle as well as the 50m butterfly after comfortably achieving the qualifying times.

The 29-year-old swam long course personal best times in all events apart from the 100m freestyle, which came straight after his 1500m race.

Andy (right) with the successful GB relay team EMN-160308-123238002

Andy (right) with the successful GB relay team EMN-160308-123238002

The competition is run as two events; the International event where medals are awarded for winning heats, and the World Championships where the finalists fight it out for the top three medals.

Dad Keith said: “Although still easily achieving entry times, Andy now has no realistic chances of achieving a top three place in the world in his individual events.

“The younger swimmers are now coming through, having individual coaching and training, and continually raising the standard.”

Banks won two heats and came second in another to win two gold and a silver International medal.

The relays, however, were a different matter, and allowed Banks to go up against the very best.

The British 4x100 medley relay proved the GB boys were not to be underestimated.

They went into the final ranked sixth, but the oldest member of the team, Mark Holmes, a former backstroke record holder, turned back the clock to swim his leg in a time not achieved for years.

Will Reed swam the breaststroke leg in a remarkable five-second PB, and Billy Birchmore put in a world class butterfly swim before Banks swam a freestyle PB time to secure the World Championship bronze medal.

Britain again exceeded expectations in the 4x50 freestyle relay, as the Harby swimmer, competing with 15-year-old Zac Lacey, Mark Holmes, and Billy Birchmore earned a second bronze medal against the odds.

Banks is already looking to the European Championships, in France, next year and the 2018 World Championships in Canada which would mark his 10-year anniversary with the British team.