Josef Craig set an S7 400m freestyle world record as he and Ellie Simmonds got Great Britain off to a winning start at the IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal.  Simmonds earned Britain’s first gold medal of the event when she won the equivalent S6 women’s event in five minutes, 24.02 seconds, more than 20 seconds ahead of Mexico’s Vianney Trejo Delgadillo.

Craig then touched in 4min 39.14sec to edge out Russia’s Andrey Gladkov by five hundredths of a second and take virtually two seconds off his own world record. Team-mate Jonathan Fox was third.

Represent: Great Britain’s Josef Craig (centre) won gold in the S7 400m freestyle while Jonathan Fox (right) won bronze after a rip-roaring start in Montreal

For Simmonds and Craig the performances were repeats of their Paralympic exploits last year in London where both won the 400m, with Simmonds also adding gold in the 200m medley.

Simmonds, who defended one of her four world titles, told ‘I’m really pleased, really happy. It was a really good time. I’m looking forward to my five other events.

‘I was still really nervous. I have felt less pressure than London, London being a home Games and a Paralympics, but I was just going out there to race myself and that’s a bit harder in a way because I’m a racer: I’m born to race.

‘It was really good. To think I’ve gone to three World Championships and I’m only 18, it’s quite great. We’ve got a lot of stars coming up, a lot of girls, a lot of youngsters – I think it’s going to be a great World Championships for us.’

Craig added: ‘I’m very pleased but that’s my first race of four in this competition so I can’t rest on my laurels. I really want to push on now I’ve got that confidence.’

There were two more gold medals for British swimmers as Jessica-Jane Applegate and Steph Millward also topped the podium.

Paralympic champion Applegate, 16, emulated her London triumph with gold in the S14 200m freestyle, clocking a world-record time of 2:09.88.

And Millward got the gold that eluded her last year, winning the S9 100m freestyle in 1:04.00.

She beat team-mate Amy Marren into second place, the 14-year-old claiming her first international medal with a time of 1:04.41.

Susannah Rodgers was second in the women’s S7 400m freestyle, as was Hannah Russell in the S12 100m freestyle.

There were bronze medals for Oliver Hynd in the S8 men’s 100m backstroke and Andrew Mullen in the S5 50m butterfly.

Ireland’s Darragh McDonald won the men’s S6 400m freestyle in 5:19.23, with Bethany Firth taking silver behind Applegate in the S14 200m free.

McDonald told ‘It just means the world to me to finish top place on the podium I have a good base now to go on into next year and bring the time down and challenge the world record.’

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