Record-breaking Will Perry ready to smash targets in Birmingham

·4-min read
Commonwealth Games Home Nations

FRESH from a record-breaking World Championships, swimmer Will Perry is gunning to smash more personal targets at this summer's Commonwealth Games writes Alec McQuarrie.

The Northampton-based 21-year-old exceeded expectations when he broke the British SB6 100m breaststroke record twice in Madeira, missing out on a medal by just 1.57 seconds.

Perry, who made his Paralympic debut last year in Tokyo, came into the 2022 Championships ranked outside the top ten and his performances are spurring him on ahead of the Games in Birmingham.

He only made his international debut at the European Championships in May last year and expressed surprise at his continued improvement.

“If I’m being honest, in para swimming I never thought I’d be anywhere near contention for medals,” said Perry, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

“It’s now made me think that a medal is possible in the future. I’m not that gutted because in para swimming you never know where you’re going to place.

“The only two goals I had was to make a final and break the British record and I did both in the first race.

“I lowered it by about 1.3 seconds overall on the day which I’m very happy with considering it’s stood for quite a long time.”

At the Team England Kitting Out session, just days after carrying the Queen’s Baton in Buckinghamshire, the enormity of the occasion was beginning to hit home.

“It’s actually started sinking in, and making you realise how much of a big deal this is,” he added.

“We’ve got so much on at the moment, and I’ve just come back from World Champs and then suddenly boom, you’re racing, you’re competing, and the Commonwealth Games is upon us.”

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Perry is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in his home country.

But Perry is remaining calm about his prospects, seeking to make the most of this special opportunity.

“I’m actually quite relaxed about the Commonwealth Games,” said Perry. “I’m swimming up a category in S7 not S6 which takes the pressure off in a way, knowing that if I don’t medal then people understand and if I do then it’s an extra wow.

“My aim is to hopefully get top five. It will be incredible if I win a medal. I’m fully aware of my expectations. I always like to be realistic. “I’ve got my own personal targets which I keep to myself until I’ve achieved them and if a medal comes along then that’s even more amazing.

“I’ve only got one race, so I’ve got the rest of the time to enjoy the experience, enjoy being a Team England Athlete and enjoy being in front of my parents, who haven’t seen me race live for three years.

“My sister’s watching for the first time ever apart from once when I was very junior. So that’s something I’m most excited about.”

Key to Perry’s recent successes has been a switch to work under coach Andy Sharp last year at Northampton Swimming Club.

Perry said: “If I could describe Andy’s coaching in one word it would be passion. Every day he’s there early writing the set on the board, wanting the best out of all of us.

“I think the simple thing is the results speak for themselves. Our whole squad’s times under his directorship have come falling down.

“He’s very passionate and it’s a fantastic club environment.”

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