Student swimmer dives into Para World Championships
A master’s student from The University of Manchester is to join the world’s elite para swimmers in Manchester when she competes at the world championships this week.
Grace Harvey, a University of Manchester immunology graduate and now taking a Masters in Public Health (Dental Public Health). , will be represent the British Para-Swimming team’ at the championships across three events.
The University of Manchester Sport Scholar who has cerebral palsy, began swimming when she was 4 to go on to win world gold in 100m Breaststroke (SB5) in 2022 and Paralympic (Tokyo 2020) & Commonwealth (Birmingham 2022) Silver medals.
She will be taking part in the womens 100m backstroke S6 (31st July), the womens 200m Individual Medley - SM6 (2nd August) and the womens 100m Breaststroke - SB5 (4th August).
From Ware in Hertfordshire, she has broken 11 British records and swam for the University at the 2018 British Universities and Colleges Sport championships.
After watching the 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games, she decided she wanted to compete and joined a club at age nine.
The swimmer follows a gruelling training regime: 8 pool sessions – around 16 hours, 3 gym sessions and 2 indoor rowing sessions.
I definitely wouldn’t be able to study my master’s if I didn’t have the support from the sport scholarship team. They were incredibly instrumental in my switching my full-time study to part-time study because the demands of a masters and training for a world championships are intense
She said: “I’m really looking forward to worlds starting, I woke up this morning thinking ‘oh my goodness we actually get to race!’ – this is the meet we’ve trained for all year and I think it’s so exciting that it’s in my home training pool as well so I’m really familiar with the facilities. Especially post the refurbishment as well it’s a really welcoming environment to have international competition in.”
“I definitely wouldn’t be able to study my master’s if I didn’t have the support from the sport scholarship team. They were incredibly instrumental in my switching my full-time study to part-time study because the demands of a masters and training for a world championships are intense. I did start off the year thinking I could manage both but I didn’t want to have a subpar performance in either so they were really key in giving me the support I needed to say ‘you know what I am struggling here’ and so I could actually succeed in both.”
She added: “It’s so exciting! When you see all the tickets and it’s saying ‘final few tickets remaining’ and then they’re coming down because all the sessions are selling out – it is just so exciting for para-sport, for the competitors racing and it’s nice knowing people want to come and support us at our local world championships in Manchester.”
The competition will be at Manchester Aquatics Centre, jointly owned by The University of Manchester, Manchester City Council and Manchester Metropolitan university, built ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2002.
The centre has just undergone the first stage of a significant refurb in time to host the Para-Swimming Championships next week.
Dr Lucy O'malley, Lecturer in Health Services Research in the Division of Dentistry and Grace's supervisor said: “When I first met Grace, I was struck by her passion and enthusiasm for her studies. She is working extremely hard on the programme and has achieved some outstanding grades. That she can do this alongside her busy training schedule is testament to her dedication and commitment. Grace is multi-talented and an inspiration, we here at the University of Manchester are incredibly proud of her and wish her all the best for the Championships.”
James Marenghi, senior sports manager at The University of Manchester said: “We are really excited to have the world's best para-swimmers competing on our campus. It is also a proud moment for us to have one of our student athletes represent the British team as well as the University.
“Everyone at the University wishes Grace the very best of luck for the meet and we will all be supporting her to win more World championship medals!”
You can watch the championships live on the Paralympics Youtube Channel but check out Channel 4’s one-hour highlights programme on 20/08/23 at 8.30am.
The schedule can be downloaded here. Heats start at 9am each day with finals start from 5.30pm.