Nikita Howarth - Commonwealth Games
Wednesday, 11 June 2014
When Cambridge's Nikita Howarth hits the pool at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games there's no doubt she'll be looking to make a splash.
She said she knows the games present a challenge, but Howarth, who was born with bilateral upper limb deficiency, which means she has no hands, has never been known to shy away from one.
The honorary Cambridge Swimming Club member and Cambridge High School student has qualified for Glasgow in the 100m freestyle - shaving 16 seconds off her previous personal best time in the event since December.
She recorded a time of 1:16.83 seconds to qualify for Glasgow at the State New Zealand Open Swimming Championships in April. Although at the open championships she technically missed qualification for the 100m breaststroke in Glasgow, she will be allowed to compete at the event there because she has previously proven she is capable of a qualification time in the event.
Howarth - who has had a new coach, Steve Hay, since earlier this year - has already had several experiences competing at the highest level - including being New Zealand's youngest ever paralympian at the 2012 London Paralympics and wining a gold medal in the 200m individual medley SM7 event at the world swimming championships in Canada last August.
SM7 refers to the classification Howarth swims in given her disability.
"Glasgow's challenge will be the fact that she has actually been put up a classification for the events she's swimming in there, because Glasgow has limited para-races, " mum Carmel Howarth said.
"Her usual ranking for freestyle is S7, in Glasgow she'll be swimming in S8. In breaststroke her usual ranking is SB8 and at Glasgow she'll be in SB9, a ranking which includes swimmers like Sophie Pascoe. So, for her to qualify to swim above her classification is just phenomenal."
"It's my first Commonwealth Games so I'll definitely use it as a great experience, I'm not really that nervous, " Nikita said.
Hot on the heels of Glasgow is the Pan Pacific Championships in August. Nikita said Glasgow will help set her up well for that event.
"I'll be hoping to win."
In the long term, Nikita said she will look to defend her 200IM world title at the world championships in Glasgow next year and she hopes to win gold at the Rio Paralympics in 2016.
Article: Cambridge Edition