Britain’s rising aquatics stars showed their ability on the third day of action in Gwangju, with strong Diving and Marathon Swimming performances.
Leading the way at the Nambu University International Pool were Eden Cheng and Lois Toulson, the young 10m Synchro partnership finishing sixth in a closely fought final.
The pair made a good start with two solid required dives, so after two of the five rounds they occupied sixth position, just six points outside the medals. A really strong Front 3 ½ Somersault Pike (107B) kept the pair, who clinched the European title in Glasgow last summer in just their first season diving together, in sixth, the points gap to the podium remaining the same.
The penultimate round saw the British duo move into fifth before closing out their series with a lovely Back 2 ½ Somersaults 1 ½ Twist Pike (5253B) was rewarded with 68.16 points by the judges to leave them with a tally of 289.14 points; unfortunately for them the Russian pair nailed their final effort to leap frog them in the standings.
In their first World Championships together Toulson was pleased with their efforts, despite knowing a top three finish would have secured an Olympic berth.
“We’re really pleased with where we’ve placed as that’s qualified us a place on the World Series, which is what we were both aiming to do here. We were happy with most of our dives but with one of our requireds we both messed up a little bit and that put us about 10 points back at the start, which wasn’t great. As long as we get those right then our optionals are getting better the more we compete, so I think it’s just a case of practicing those a bit more when we’re at home.
“We haven’t had any amazing scores yet, but we know it’s in the tank, so hopefully when we get that second chance [at Olympic qualification] we can bring them out.”
Still just 16 years of age, learning to compete in this environment is an additional challenge Cheng faces:
“Seeing all of these diving greats around me is a bit weird but I’m getting used to it and know how to settle my nerves now, so I’m definitely getting more settled and calmer.”
James Heatly put in a strong performance to finish ninth in the Men’s 1m Springboard final as he gears up for his main event, the three metre springboard, which kicks off on Wednesday morning.
Having qualified 10th, Heatly improved his ranking by one place, moving up from 11th at the halfway mark. What’s more the European bronze medallist improved his score by almost 20 points, largely thanks to superb 71.40 Inward 2 ½ Somersault Pike (405B) in the final round.
Reflecting on his efforts, Heatly said:
“I moved up a place and to be in the final I’m really happy with that, but I’m a bit annoyed with the performance as I know there’s a lot more in there. I had so much adrenaline going through me, so all the take offs were really good, they were all just a bit washy at the end.
“I’m really looking forward to the 3 metre – I’ve never done a Worlds 3m before and that’s the main focus, so I’ve been putting a lot of work in to that. I’ll try and use this one to get a good performance in that event.”
The second Olympic qualifying event of these World Championships was the Women’s 10km open water, which took place just south of Gwangju in the city of Yeosu. With an 8am start to avoid the humidity the water was calm, so perfect conditions for some quality competition.
In action for Great Britain were Alice Dearing and Danielle Huskisson, both women in the lead pack at the halfway stage. As the pace started to increase the front group began to whittle down, with the Brits having to battle hard to stay in contention for the inevitable bunch sprint.
Come the finish Dearing was best placed as she finished in 17th place, just 15 seconds shy of the top 10 needed for Olympic qualification, whilst Huskisson was a further 26 seconds back in 25th place. Despite not being able to match the finishing speed of their rivals, both swam smart races against the best in the world.
Of her swim, Dearing said:
“It went alright but obviously I was hoping to be in the top 10. I wasn’t too far off the pace at the end in 17th, so there’s still a good chance I can qualify at the next qualifier. This is a really good venue – the water is just the right temperature, there’s a nice backdrop and it’s nice clear water and completely flat.
“Hopefully I’ll get picked for the secondary qualifier, which will be in Japan in May or June time and for that I think it’s top ten but only one per country.”
Next in marathon swimming action are Jack Burnell and Toby Robinson who’ll contest the men’s equivalent on Tuesday morning.
Monday sees more Artistic Swimming, Diving and Marathon Swimming action, with Tom Daley in action for the first time alongside Matty Lee in the Men’s 10m Synchro.
Full results from the FINA World Aquatics Championships can be found here.
You can catch all the action live on FINA TV