Paralympic champion Jessica-Jane Applegate has been named in a 25-member team for Funchal ©Getty Images

British Swimming has announced a 25-member squad for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) European Open Championships in Funchal, Portugal.

The team is spearheaded by Paralympic champions Ollie Hynd, Jessica-Jane Applegate and Josef Craig as they build towards the defence of their titles at Rio 2016.

Applegate began her preparations for the Championships, due to take place from April 27 to May 8, by breaking the S14 100 metres freestyle and 100m butterfly world records at the British National Para-Swimming Championships in December.

She had to settle for second place in the 200m freestyle, in which she won Paralympic gold, with Bethany Firth setting a world record of 2min 05.88sec.

Firth claimed Paralympic S14 100m backstroke gold for Ireland at London 2012, but switched to British nationality after taking a spell out of competition.

The European Open Championships are set to be her first appearance for her new country.

Bethany Firth claimed gold for Ireland at London 2012 but is now representing Britain
Bethany Firth claimed gold for Ireland at London 2012 but is now representing Britain ©Getty Images

World champions Tully Kearney and Hannah Russell are also included in the team, which national performance director Chris Furber believes can gain valuable competition practice in Funchal as they look towards Rio 2016 in September.

“This is an exciting team of youth and experience,” Furber said.

“More opportunities to race against international competitors is important as we move closer to the Paralympic Games.

“Having five athletes making their senior international debut is great and it’s going to be good to see them taking the step up to a new level, I know our more experienced athletes will be on hand whenever they need advice.

“For the likes of Ollie and Jessica-Jane the meet will give them the chance to race against some tough competition just four months out from the Games.”

Lewis White, Michael Jones, Rebecca Redfern and Zara Mullooly are due to make their international debuts in Funchal.

The men’s team is completed by James Crisp, Jonathan Fox, Thomas Hamer, Andrew Mullen, Scott Quin and Matthew Wylie.

Claire Cashmore, Charlotte Henshaw, Harriet Lee, Amy Marren, Stephanie Millward and Eleanor Robinson have all been included on the women’s team, which will also be represented by Susie Rodgers, Stephanie Slater and Alice Tai.