The IPC Swimming World Championships begin at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre in Glasgow tomorrow – and Ellie Simmonds and her Great Britain team-mates are looking to pick up medals and build up momentum ahead of the Paralympics next year.
Simmonds, 20, already has four Paralympic medals to her name as well as 13 world titles and she will be the star attraction at the event that runs until next Sunday.
Having won three medals at the last World Championships in Montreal two years ago, Simmonds – who shot into the limelight in 2008 when she won two gold medals at the Beijing Olympics – is hoping to be on the podium once again this week.
“I think it is so exciting for us to be swimming in Glasgow because the Commonwealth Games went so well there last year and the home crowd seem really knowledgeable,” Simmonds said.
“We were here for the trials earlier in the year and since then my preparations have been going well and I have been enjoying training.
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself by setting a target for the number of medals I will win this week. I just want to get into the pool and swim and suss out my opposition because the standard of para-swimming is improving all the time.
“I think that it is great having the event separate [from the able-bodied World Championships], just like the Olympics and the Paralympics is.
“The Paralympics is one of the biggest sporting events in the world and for that to carry on to the Worlds is nice.”
Simmonds and all the others competing over the coming days will have one eye on the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.
They will use their races in Glasgow to work on things ahead of the showpiece event – and Simmonds has already stepped up her preparations.
This “step up” has taken shape in a move to the base for high-performance Paralympic sport – Manchester – for her training.
“It was important for me to move because at Loughborough, I was training with an able-bodied squad and we were all getting ready for different meets so I was having to prepare for things like the World Championships with just my coach,” she said.
“So, I made the decision to make the move to Manchester and I’ve had a lot of support with it and it’s gone really well so far. We’ll see how it goes at the Worlds, but my main goal is Rio next year.”
As well as Simmonds, Scots Andrew Mullen and Scott Quin will be ones to watch in the 18-strong British squad and they will have lots of family and friends present to cheer them on.
Glasgow teenager Mullen secured three medals at the World Championships two years ago and was in cracking form at the European Championships in Eindhoven 2014, the 18-year-old returning home with six medals.
Edinburgh-based breaststroker Quin, 24, will be looking to build on his first major international medal at the European Championships when he picked up a silver and broke the British record in the 100m.
And 20-year-old Englishman Ollie Hynd, who won three medals at the last World Championships in 2013, is expected to challenge for honours too.
Great Britain team: James Crisp, Jonathan Fox, Thomas Hamer, Ollie Hynd, Sascha Kindred, Andrew Mullen, Scott Quin, Jack Thomas, Jessica-Jane Applegate, Claire Cashmore, Bethany Firth, Charlotte Henshaw, Tully Kearney, Susannah Rodgers, Hannah Russell, Ellie Simmonds, Stephanie Slater, Alice Tai.