Lily Rice decided it was her time to quit swimming the last time she competed at Pond’s Forge, but her career has come full circle as she returns a Commonwealth Games medallist six years later.

Lily, alongside another eight Welsh para swimmers, will take on a stellar field at the Citi Para Swimming World Series inc. British Para Swimming Meet 2023 across four days in Sheffield when the event begins tomorrow.

She walked away from the sport in 2017 to focus on Wheelchair Motocross, but returned to the sport in spectacular style to clinch Commonwealth Games bronze in the 200m Backstroke. And now she is ready to rub shoulders with the best para athletes on the planet again.

“I went to Sheffield in 2017 for the first time and ironically that was where I decided to quit swimming,” she said.  “Coming back is really nice and the place looks completely different. It’s a really nice pool and I’m excited to get racing.

“It was really cool to see all the different countries coming in, there are so many competing. Being around so many great swimmers from different nations will help push myself more when it comes to having more athletes in my class.”

Lily after winning Bronze.
Lily after winning Birmingham bronze.

After starring in the 200m Backstroke in Brum, Lily has broadened her stroke and distance range. This year she will also compete in the 200m IM and 400m Freestyle in a bid to qualify for the Para Swimming World Championships in Manchester this summer.

“Since Birmingham I’ve started working on a lot of different strokes and distances,” she said. “For Birmingham I was focused on backstroke mainly. Fr this meet I’m looking forward to racing different events at a high level again. This will be the first 400 free and 200 medley I’ve raced at this level which is really exciting.

“It would be lovely to qualify for the World Championships, but I’m not putting any expectations on myself and swim fast. Hopefully one of those times gets me in but if not it’s no worries, I just want to go in there and swim fast.”

A strong Welsh contingent of nine swimmers will race in Sheffield, including Lily’s Commonwealth Games teammates Meghan Willis, Dylan Broom and Becky Lewis. They will be joined by Rhys Darbey, Ela Letton-Jones, Saskia Webb, McKenzie O’Reilly and Lucy Jones, and Lily is enjoying having the team back together.

“It’s been so nice to see everyone and compete with all the Welsh athletes because it’s the first time we’ve properly raced together since Birmingham,” she added. “It’s even better that we have more Welsh representation this year compared to last year.”

For all the information on the meet, go to the event page here.

Full list of athletes competing this weekend:

Lily Rice – 400 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 100 fly, 200 IM

Dylan Broom – 100 free, 200 free, 100 back

Meghan Willis – 50 free, 100 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 100 fly, 200IM, 400 free

Rhys Darbey – 200 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 100 fly, 200 IM

Rebecca Lewis – 100 free, 400 free, 100 breast, 100 back, 100 fly, 200IM

Ela Letton-Jones – 50 free, 100 free, 400 free, 50 back, 100 back, 50 breast, 100 breast, 100 fly, 200 IM

Saskia Webb – 200 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 100 fly

McKenzie O’Reilly – 50 free, 100 free, 400 free, 100 back, 100 fly, 100 breast, 200 IM

Lucy Jones – 200 IM, 100 free, 100 back, 100 breast