By Tom Degun

louise_watkin_05-07-11July 4 - Britain's world champion Louise Watkin sealed her first 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Swimming European Championship gold medal in a European record of 2min 35.99sec after a superb finish in the women's SM9 individual medley on day two of the competition.

The second day of the event saw the British team win four gold medals and a total of 13 medals overall but it was the performance of Watkin, who powered away from her rivals in the last 50 metres of her race, which was the most impressive.

"It was a tough race from start to finish," said Watkin.

"Obviously I was down after the fly leg but I pulled it back as hard as I could and thankfully it worked and I got the gold medal."

Spain's Sarai Gascon was forced to accept silver in 2:36.48 while Britain's Claire Cashmore took the bronze in 2:37.55.

In the women's SB6 100m breaststroke, British pair Liz Johnson and Charlotte Henshaw produced an enthralling encounter that saw Johnson touch just ahead of her compatriot in an impressive time of 1:38.89 to claim her first victory at the event.

"My first European Championships was 10 years ago and this is the first time I have ever been European Champion so I am over the moon," said Beijing 2008 Paralympic champion Johnson.

"I did two years of base work after Beijing and I think that has put me in a good position for this season.

"I have put work in on my speed and my race specific skills and that really came together today."

Henshaw claimed the silver in 1:39.98, while the bronze went to Ozlem Baykiz of Turkey in 1:51.10.

Tom Young won the third gold for Britain in the men's SB7 100m breaststroke with a time of 1:24.13 as he relegated Laroslav Semenenko of Ukraine to silver in 1:25.10 and Ruslan Sadvakasov of Russia to bronze in 1:30.70.

Dan Pepper claimed the fourth gold medal for Britain of the competition in the men's S14 200m freestyle, as the world champion touched in a new British record time of 2:01.27 ahead of Marc Evers of the Netherlands in 2:01.42 and compatriot Ben Procter in 2:03.30.

"I found that race very hard," Pepper said.

"I went out a bit quicker than I normally do which I thought might have affected my back end but luckily I had enough in the last 25 to hold off Marc."

The women's S14 200m freestyle saw Natalie Massey win the silver medal with a time of 2:15.03.

In the final 50m she almost caught Marlou van der Kulk of the Netherlands but couldn't quite close the gap.

James Crisp won the silver medal in the men's SM9 individual medley after finishing in a British record time of 2:19.85 while Paralympic champion Heather Frederiksen claimed her second medal of the competition with silver, clocking 31.62 in the women's S8 50m freestyle final.

Frederiksen had made a golden return to the international scene yesterday after a drugs ban as she claimed gold in the women's S8 100m and she proved she will be a big threat at the London 2012 Paralympics with her second strong performance of the week.

Meanwhile, Emma Hollis won the bronze medal in the women's SB7 100m breaststroke while the men's SM10 200m individual medley saw Rob Welbourn win the bronze medal with a good finish to his final.

European Championships newcomer Gemma Almond won bronze in the women's SM10 200m individual medley with a time of 2:42.12 to round off another strong day that saw the British team have a total of eight golds following the four golds they won the previous day.

National performance director John Atkinson said: "We continued on day two where we left off on day one.

"We had four additional swimmers add to the gold medal tally.

"For me one of the highlights was Louise Watkin winning her race in a new European record time.

"I am pleased with how the first two days have gone and tomorrow sees our relay teams in action."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
July 2011: Simmonds leads British gold rush as IPC Swimming European Championships get underway