The pride of Seaforde

The pride of Seaforde

1 September 2021

SEAFORDE swimming sensation Bethany Firth is aiming to add another Paralympic medal to her growing collection after helping Team GB break a world record at the weekend.

The local golden girl will be competing in the 100 metre Backstroke S14 tomorrow, after winning a silver medal in Tuesday’s 200 metre IM SM14.

That was her second silver of the games, after narrowly missing out on the top spot to Russian Paralympic Committee’s Valeriia Shabalina in last Friday’s S14 200 metre freestyle final.

World record holder Shabalina also claimed gold in Tuesday’s race ahead of Bethany although she didn’t seem to disheartened with the result.

“I didn’t expect much, so to come out with a silver medal and see Louise (her Team GB teammate) get a bronze it was a great night. I’m just looking forward to Thursday,” said Bethany.

Despite picking up silvers in her solo events, Bethany wrote her name in the history books alongside teammates Reece Dunn, Jessica-Jane Applegate and Jordan Catchpole when the team from Great Britain reigned victorious in the Mixed 4x100 metre Freestyle relay, setting a new world record in the process.

The GB team clocked a seriously impressive time of 3:40.63, almost a full six seconds ahead of nearest rivals Australia.

Bethany already has a collection of medals almost every athlete would be envious of, with five golds and three silvers to her name at the age of just 25.

The inspiring young swimmer achieved her first medal at the London 2012 games, where she picked up gold whilst representing Ireland. She then made the switch to represent Team GB in Rio, and really put herself in the spotlight winning three golds and one silver at those games.

Bethany’s amazing performances at the games haven’t gone unnoticed back in her homeland, with mum Lindsay speaking of the feelings she’s had watching her daughter in action.

“It’s been very exciting. We’re all delighted for her,” she said. “She was the fastest girl in the relay, and even beat some of the lads’ times. We were delighted with it,” she continued.

“As she always says, the medal is not just for her – it belongs to the whole community. She wouldn’t be able to do it without their support.”

Outside of the Firth family, Bethany has also garnered the attention of First Minister Paul Givan and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, who both paid tribute to her.

Mr Givan described Bethany’s gold medals as “an amazing total, which further cements her status as one of the best athletes 

Northern Ireland has ever produced”, 

while Ms O’Neill said the Para-swimmer was “a real inspiration to aspiring athletes”.

Now all eyes turn to Bethany’s 100 metre backstroke race, an event which her coach Nelson Lindsay believes she has a great opportunity to be victorious.

“It has been very difficult for Bethy to work on all the strokes for the medley because of the shoulder injuries she has had over the past 12 months,” he said.

“There were literally times when she was out of the pool so blocks of training were missed.

“With the backstroke, the timing can come back in a moment. That’s how it worked before the Europeans in 2018 in Dublin,” he continued. 

“It didn’t seem quite at the level she wanted but then it clicked and she got the gold. I’m hoping that it will be the same in Tokyo.”