Ella Benn Competes at NZ Short Course Champs


Twelve year old Clearview Primary School student Ella Benn has recently returned from the 2016 New Zealand Short Course Championships, which was held in Auckland from October 2nd to 6th.  Qualifying alongside over 600 competitors from New Zealand, Australia, Egypt and the United Kingdom, Ella was the youngest competitor of the para swimmers with ages in this class ranging from fourteen to sixteen years.

Ella swam her heats with able bodied athletes and her finals with para-athletes. She had outstanding results coming home with six silver medals and one bronze in the S10* competition. There are three types of classification: physical (S1-S10*), visual (S11-S13) and intellectual (S14).

Classification provides a structure for competition. Athletes competing in Paralympic sports have an impairment that leads to a competitive disadvantage in sport.

Consequently, a system has to be put in place to minimise the impact of impairments on sport performance and to ensure the success of an athlete is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus. This system is called classification.

“Ella has always been quite sporty,” said her mum Sandi, “and had just run for Canterbury in Cross country when she was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma of her left femur. This was three years ago and she underwent aggressive chemotherapy and a special type of amputation of her left leg called Rotationplasty. As soon as treatment finished eleven months later, she got in the pool and started swimming (something she loved previously). Ella swims in Squads with the Waitaha swim Club at the Canterbury Swim School. She qualified for the 2016 NZ Short Course Champs on her para times, through swim meets throughout the year.

“It was great for her to meet other para swimmers, especially Tupou Neiufi who had just come back from competing in Rio! They have exchanged contact details and got on well. Ella actually beat her in the 400m free,” Sandi finished.