I was really looking forward to Friday's S8 400m freestyle final in the Water Cube because I thought it would be a head-to-head between Britain's Sam Hynd and Wang Xiaofu, China's flag-bearer at the opening ceremony.

The form of a couple of months ago indicated that would be where the action was. The race didn't quite pan out like that.

Sam went really well in the morning and broke his own world record and it was good for him to push himself so hard in the heats. More often at Paralympic Games you need to put in strong performances in the heats and the finals.

GB swimmers Sam Hynd and Liz Johnson

He raced perfectly to a plan that his coach Lars Humer had set out for him. He didn't worry about the fact that the Australian Peter Leek went off fast. It was a perfectly executed race.

I like Sam because he is a complete swimmer. He is not just talented, he works really hard and has a good attitude for getting all the detail right out of the pool, eating right, resting right and is quick to thank those who help him.

He is a well-rounded kid and at only 17 years of age is showing a maturity well beyond his years.

Although he has been to the German Open and the Danish Open, this was his first major international championship and he stepped up well to the big stage.

He also swam well in his other races too in preparation for this one, including winning bronze in his 200m individual medley.

He is a proper distance swimmer and I can see him dominating that event for some time to come.

However, he will not sit back on his laurels and he will be all too aware of any potential threats to his dominance in the future.

It was a closer race for Liz Johnson in the SB6 100m breaststroke final after she had to overcome a number of personal difficulties in the build-up to the Games. (Her mother died of cervical cancer on the day Liz arrived in the training camp.)

After the morning heats, I spoke to Liz and she said she would have to go out quicker in the final. She almost went too hard and was fading at the end but had the strength to hold on.

She has been hampered by a shoulder injury all year but there have been some advantages to the way she has had to train.

She has done lots of leg work which has made her a strong swimmer and given her strength in an area she didn't have before, but she did brilliantly well.

She had a long time to wait for her first race and it is hard to do that, although she is an experienced campaigner. Usually the breaststroke is late on in the programme so she is used to it.

As for Gareth Duke and Matt Whorwood, everybody wanted one of them to win their SB6 breaststroke final.

Gareth would have been the favourite as defending champion, even though Matt was the fastest qualifier from the heats.

Gareth swims more like a 200m breaststroke swimmer and that favours him towards the end when others are getting tired, but he just couldn't cope with the speed of the Russian Alexey Fomenkov who won.

But he has had a number of health problems and if he can get that sorted out, things could be better in the future.

Matt has got his favoured event on Sunday, the 400m freestyle, and he may well improve on his bronze.

Marc Woods was speaking to Elizabeth Hudson

Marc Woods is a BBC summariser, won 12 Paralympic swimming medals and has held world records for 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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