LONDON – Canada’s Tess Routliffe fell just short of the podium on the opening day of the World Para Swimming Championships in London on Monday.
She finished fourth in the 50-metre butterfly in the S7 category.
Routliffe was looking to build on a strong performance in the heats, but was unable to keep up as her time of 36.70 left her .63 seconds behind third-place Giulia Terzi of Italy.
Although she missed the podium in the final, the 20-year-old had plenty to be happy about with her performance on day one, as she set a new career-best in the 50-metre fly, going 36.46 in the preliminary round.
Her finals time, while not as low as her prelim, also beat her previous personal best of 36.80 seconds.
The result was a major accomplishment for the former Paralympic silver medallist, who has been working hard to regain her form in the build-up to next summer’s Paralympics in Tokyo.
“I was obviously nervous and all that and we just knew as soon as I got in the water we’d go back to old Tess,” she said. “Just because we haven’t raced in a really really long time, like the whole world in one place in a long time, I think it’s really good for us to be out here.
“I think that was the old Tess.”
Early on, Routliffe knew she was in for a big day.
“I felt confident going into it, just even in warmup we had a really good split. I knew we hadn’t raced in a long time and it should come out and it did.”
During that prelim, the Caledon, Ontario native defeated two of her fellow Canadians to reach the final, finishing second in her heat ahead of Camille Berube, of Gatineau, Que., and Sabrina Duchesne, from St-Augustin, Que.
“I train with those girls. I train with them almost every day and it’s really good,” said she of her compatriots. “I love them both.”
Routliffe holds the distinction of competing in the most individual events of any Canadian woman at these world championships with five, one of each stroke and the individual medley. She believes the strong performance in the 50-metre fly will help her later in the meet.
“I was really nervous to race today. First day always gets all the jitters out,” she said. “You remember what it’s like to race and you remember to have fun with it so it’s good.”
Next up for her is the SB7 100-metre Breaststroke on Wednesday.