British Swimming made history at the European Short Course Championships as their five-medal haul on the final night of action – including a superb 200m Freestyle gold for Freya Anderson – ensured they finished top of the competition’s medal table for the first time.
Roared on by his teammates alongside him on the podium, James Guy hoisted aloft the Championship trophy at the end of six packed days of thrilling racing in Otopeni, Romania, capping a stunning meet for the British team that saw them secure 23 medals – nine golds, eight silvers and six bronzes.
The ninth and final of those European titles came courtesy of Anderson, who paced her own race to perfection to win back the Women’s 200m Freestyle crown she took in Glasgow four years ago.
Taking the first 100m of the race out in measured fashion, the David McNulty-coached swimmer cranked up the gears over the following four lengths of the short-course pool to overturn a one-second deficit on the lead and power home to a commanding victory.
There was more to celebrate as compatriot Freya Colbert steadily built throughout her own race on the outside in lane one, and executed a strong last 25m from the turn to steal in for a brilliant bronze.
“I am really happy with that and, also of course that Freya [Colbert] got on the podium too, what more could we ask for,” said Anderson,
“I really had to stick to my guns in that race because everyone has different tactics, but I played to my strengths and it paid off.
“It takes a lot of mental strength [to fight back], it’s something you have to train and I’m still working on it. We do so many hours in the pool, but it takes a lot of mental training as well - the luxury I have is the amazing team around me and they just always pick me up, so I’m very blessed.”
Colbert added: “I’m really pleased with a bronze and slightly surprised - it’s been a good end to a busy week. I thought I was further behind! I couldn’t really see anything other than Freya and Seemanova’s feet, so I thought I was fourth or fifth and just fought for a good time.”
The British silverware collection continued to grow as Luke Greenbank played a headline role in a cracking Men's 200m Backstroke contest - ultimately being touched out from the top spot on the podium by just one tenth of a second as he lowered his British record to 1:48.53 in taking silver.
Cameron Brooker also posted a personal best in the same final to finish sixth in a positive display of his development on the continental stage.
“It wasa very close one tonight but I can’t complain with a PB - I executed the race plan exactly how I wanted to and I’m pretty happy with that,” said Greenbank
“It’s good to be back racing after a little bit of time out, and now I finally feel like I’m coming back to my best for the first time since the Olympic year. I’m really enjoying it which is the main thing and this is an excellent starting point heading into 2024.”
Duncan Scott added to his outstanding 200m Individual Medley title victory with another strong swim in the final over double the distance, ultimately claiming silver in the 400m Individual Medley.
“I’m a bit disappointed with that, I didn’t quite put together the race plan I wanted to. I knew it would be a great battle and he (Alberto Razzetti) has produced a great time there. I kind of fell off there and my freestyle wasn’t great but then I think it is the fourth-fastest I’ve ever done so it’s still pretty solid, but a bit disappointed.
“I’m looking forward to next year. 2023 has been an odd one for me, probably not ideal the year before the Olympics but I have definitely built through the year and I’m happy with how I’ve been able to compete here. There have been some great times but also leaving a bit disappointed knowing there’s more things to come – so I’m looking forward to next year.”
The final British medal of Otopeni 2023 came courtesy of Imogen Clark, who was part of a thrilling Women’s 50m Breaststroke contest. In a race lasting less than 30 seconds, Imogen remarkably ended up tying for bronze with Jasmine Nocentini of Italy, capping a two-medal return for her at her maiden European Short Course Championships.
“It’s been so special. It’s my first ever short course one. I’ve medalled at both the long course (European Championships) meets I’ve been to so it’s great to get up on that podium,” she reflected.
“It was brilliant, I didn’t realise it was a joint third, just seeing that I came third means so much to me. Getting on the podium, it doesn’t matter about the time, it just means the world to me.”
To recap every big medal moment from the meet and all the results from every single session, visit our ‘Otopeni 2023: What’s On?’ page