Para swimmer Stephen quietly confident about world contest

Stephen Clegg (photograph by British Swimming).
Stephen Clegg (photograph by British Swimming).

Newcastleton’s Stephen Clegg, one third of a famous set of Paralympic sporting siblings, is among a strong British squad heading to the London 2019 World Para Swimming Allianz Championships.

The event takes place from September 9-15 at the London Aquatics Centre, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and will be broadcast on Channel 4.

Stephen (23) is taking part in four disciplines over the opening five days.

Classified as an S12, SB12 and SM12 athlete, he’ll be in the men’s 100m backstroke on day one.

The next day, it’s the 100m butterfly – his main event – followed the day after that by the 50m butterfly.

On September 13, he’ll be bidding for the 100m freestyle.

Stephen is the brother of double gold Paralympian sprinter Libby Clegg MBE (29), and 25-year-old fellow swimmer James Clegg. All three have the same visual impairment.

Stephen said he was feeling good and pretty confident about his chances – a legacy of his performance at last year’s European Championships in Dublin, where he won three bronze medals and set two new British records.

He’d previously served notice of what may follow after reaching two finals during his Paralympic debut at the 2016 Games in Brazil.

“I got a few medals at the European and had a pretty clear plan of where I wanted to go,” he said.

Stephen was going into the London contest ranked as number one and hoped to do particularly well in what he regarded as his strongest discipline – the 100m butterfly.

“A few of us could all get up and grab the gold medal, so it should be a tight race to watch,” he said.

Knowing he was up against high-calibre opposition also helped his game.

“I like when it’s competitive and I like being chased,” he added.

Coached by Danny Thompson, Stephen will be spending time at a training camp in Ostia, near Rome, and at the British Para-Swimming National Performance Centre in Manchester, as well as fitting in a good spell of rest.

The World Championship is the largest disability swimming competition outside of the Paralympic Games, which will see around 600 swimmers from 60 countries compete over the seven days.

British Swimming head coach Rob Aubry said: “We have selected a team that will not just make finals but challenge for medals in front of a home crowd. There’s always an extra buzz when we compete in London.

“These Championships are a key event for us ahead of Tokyo 2020.

“We’ve selected a squad which includes a blend of youth and experience to assist all our swimmers in their continued development towards Paralympic success next year.”

In addition to the 170 medals on offer, the occasion also presents athletes with a chance to book a place at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan.