Down Syndrome swimmer Andy Banks qualifies for fifth world championships

Andy Banks EMN-160426-160937002
Andy Banks EMN-160426-160937002
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Prolific swimmer Andy Banks will line up for his fifth Down Syndrome World Championships later this year after nailing qualification early.

Andy, from Harby, first qualified for the biennial championships eight years ago in Portugal and has competed at every subsequent event in Taiwan, Italy and Mexico.

This year’s event, however, will be very different and forms part of the first Down Syndrome World Championship Games in Florence, Italy, later this year.

Other sports will include athletics, judo, table tennis and gymnastics.

Andy will compete in the 50m long course pool after setting qualifying times for the 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle, as well as the 50m and 100m butterfly.

Which of these events he swims is yet to be finalised, but as an important member of the British relay team the Vale of Belvoir swimmer will experience a challenging few days.

But the signs have been good as he looks to build to the year’s big target in July.

Competing for Melton Swimming Club at the British Masters Long Course Championships, in Sheffield, Andy set a new Down’s Syndrome European Masters Long Course record in the 800m.

The previous mark, set by an Italian swimmer, had stood for more than two years.

Andy’s dad, Keith, said: “I’m sure that the Italians will attempt to get the record back at the world championships later this year!

“Unfortunately, due to classification restrictions, we will not be seeing any of our Downs swimmers in the Paralympics later this year so the Down’s international championships are the highest level that Andy can swim at.

“Andy would like to thank the coaches at Melton Swimming Club and at Notts Nova Centurions for all their help.”