Andy Banks in GB swim team for European Down Syndrome Champs

Andy, with his East Midlands overall champion trophy, first swam for GB aged 21 EMN-190529-125811002
Andy, with his East Midlands overall champion trophy, first swam for GB aged 21 EMN-190529-125811002
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International swimmer Andy Banks has proved he is not ready to slow down just yet after retaining his place in the latest British team.

Despite claiming veteran status in his sport, and facing much tougher qualifying times, Andy claimed his spot for the 2019 European Down Syndrome Championships which take place in Sardinia this September.

Andy Banks with his Special Recognition Award for lifetime achievement, with Simone Arcucci of sponsors Stapleford Park EMN-190529-130300002

Andy Banks with his Special Recognition Award for lifetime achievement, with Simone Arcucci of sponsors Stapleford Park EMN-190529-130300002

Having initially struggled to achieve the entry times, the Harby swimmer confirmed his spot in the team after a fine performance at last month’s Down Syndrome British Championships, in Southampton.

With competition intensfiying, the British entry times were reduced considerably this year, while each swimmer had to qualify in a minimum of four events to be considered for selection.

Andy has so far met the strict qualifying times for five events, and hoped to add more qualifying times in the Melton pool before the May 31 deadline.

The 32-year-old has already made the grade for the biennial championships at 50m, 100m, 200m, and 400m freestyle, and 50m butterfly, and also hopes to achieve times for the 800m and 1500m freestyle.

Andy is a veteran of the British team, and is in his 11th year on the international stage, an achievement only bettered by his friend and team-mate Mark Holmes, who joined the GB squad in 2004.

Earlier this month, Andy, who won the Special Recognition Award at this year’s Melton Times Sports Awards, also brought home a six-medal haul from the East Midlands Competitive Disability event, representing Melton Mowbray Swimming Club.

The event, for physical and learning difficulty swimmers, was held at the Braunstone Leisure Centre Pool and was run on a points system, geared to the swimmer’s disability category.

It proved a test of stamina for Andy, but he swam well in all events, close to his season’s best times to win 200m freestyle gold, silver in the 50m butterfly and two relays, and two bronze medals at 50m and 100m freestyle.

The results helped crown Andy the overall winner, judged on each swimmer’s best four results.