Brits continue to impress on night of near misses

25 Jul 2019

Day five of the World Championships swimming action saw the British momentum continue, despite a number of near medal misses.

With representation in three finals, it was the Women’s 200m Butterfly up first, Alys Thomas going quicker than she did in both the heats and semi-finals to just miss out on a medal. In the mix all the way, Thomas swam a typically strong race, the European champion finishing fifth in 2.07.48 just 0.44 shy of a medal.

“I gave it a good go and tried my best to get in there, but it perhaps didn’t happen the way I wanted it to today. I feel a bit bitter sweet about the race; on the one hand it’s my first world final, but on the other I felt I had more in me than a 2.07. I’m probably going to kick myself over a few things for a few days, but I’ll go away and process and rationalise it all and ultimately fifth in the world isn’t that bad!”

At her first World Championships, Laura Stephens was also in action, drawn in lane eight after securing the last final berth the previous day. Stephens can be extremely proud of her efforts, 8th in the final showing she’s now mixing it with the very best in the world.

Of her championships, Stephens said:

“I was really happy to be back there tonight in the final and it’s a big confidence boost for me just be there. I hoped I could have gone a bit quicker tonight but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I enjoyed it, went out there and gave it my best shot, so I guess I can’t complain.”

After bronze in the 200m Freestyle, Duncan Scott swam another great race tonight in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley final, missing out on a medal by the finest of margins. In a closely fought race, Scott was never far away, even though he was seventh with just the freestyle leg to swim.

Despite this being his first time swimming the event as this level, the Steve Tigg coached athlete battled hard down the final 25 metres to touch fifth, just over a tenth away from another medal. Scott’s time, 1.56.91, was his second fastest ever and he was rightly pleased with his efforts, commenting:

“I was quite lucky in terms of my lane draw – I had the 2017 Worlds bronze medallist outside of me and the 2017 winner inside of me, so I was just trying to race the boys next to me as I knew they’d be close to the medals. It came right down to the wire but I’ve got to be happy with that, fifth place at the World Champs the first time I’ve done it internationally and I’ve moved it on in each round, which is good.

“That’s the second fastest time I’ve done – it’s been a pretty tough week swimming every day, so I’m pleased with that and there are a lot of positives I can take away from that. I’ve just got the relays now, so I’ll look forward to them.”

They often say fourth is the worse positon of all to finish and that was the case for Georgia Davies tonight as she missed out on a medal in the Women’s 50m Backstroke final by one tenth of a second. Getting quicker in every round, Davies produced a 27.65 season’s best in the final, but fell just short of a medal as she couldn’t quite get her hand on the wall ahead of her rivals.

“I was on such a high after last night in the relay and I was hoping that I could come in tonight and swim a little bit faster than I did last night. I was hoping to make the podium so to come fourth I am gutted. It feels like I was so close but not close enough.

“I showed progression from heats to semis to final, but I know I’m capable of faster than that, so it’s tough to take. I’ve got two days off now to chill and get my body feeling fresh, and then we’ve got the Women’s Medley relay on the last day.”

Luke Greenbank produced another world class swim to qualify third fastest for tomorrow night’s 200m Backstroke final, meaning he’ll line up in lane three. Putting together a very measured race, Greenbank had work to do coming down the closing length, but moved from sixth to second in fine style. Touching in 1.56.60, Greenbank will line-up tomorrow knowing he’ll be in the mix in a very even final. Of his efforts, the Mel Marshall coached swimmer said:

“I’m really pleased with that, just to move it on a bit from this morning. I think I could have swam it a little faster on the way out, but I finished strong and I’m really excited for tomorrow. Like I said this morning, I’m going in with the attitude ‘everything to gain and nothing to lose’, so hopefully I can keep it going tomorrow.”

Freya Anderson set a lifetime best when it mattered most to qualify for the Women’s 100m Freestyle final, the 18 year old finishing like a train to clock 53.31, three tenths quicker than she’s ever gone before. Anderson had finished in similar fashion last night as she anchored the Mixed Medley Relay team to bronze and will be in the mix tomorrow night, if she can put together the perfect race.

Naturally delighted, Anderson commented:

“My coach wanted me to really go at it coming off the turn and I think that’s what I did! When I set my PB at Europeans a few things went wrong, so I knew I could go faster and I’ve been chipping away – I guess that was alright!”

That time would have been a British textile record had Anna Hopkin not broken that record in the heats this morning. Come the semis Hopkin wasn’t quite a quick to the turn, but pressed hard all the way to finish sixth in the same semi-final, her 53.65 time just not quite enough to see her through.

Molly Renshaw continued to impress at these World Championships as she booked her spot in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke final; leading at halfway, once again showing the speed that saw her make the 100m final earlier in the week, Renshaw eventually finished third in 2.23.16, which saw her through as fourth fastest overall.

“I really can’t complain with that! This morning I really struggled to find my rate and the speed I needed for the 200 after the 100, so I’m glad I got out there and was a lot faster than this morning. I’ve just got to rest up, recover and look back at that race and see what the little details are I can improve on.”

In the men’s equivalent it was disappointment for James Wilby and Ross Murdoch as they missed out on a place in the final. Lining up in the first semi-final Murdoch swam a strong race, but his finish cost him as he had to take another half stroke coming into the wall. Despite swimming 2.08.51, the Stirling swimmer only touched fifth, missing out by 0.23 of a second.

“It’s just not good enough. I felt really good this morning and but it just wasn’t quite there tonight. I had a rubbish stroke on the end to finish and that might have cost me, but I just don’t know. This season is the first time I’ve been 2.07 in a couple of years, so I’m happy enough with some of the progress I’ve made, but I’m not satisfied with my World Championships, but we’ll go again.”

Wilby went in lane one of the second race and away from all the action was never quite able to get in the mix, eventually finishing seventh in 2.08.52 in a race that saw Matt Wilson equal the world record. Disappointed not to be in the final, he said afterwards:

“That’s really disappointing, I’m not going to lie. It’s an event that’s stacked, but I’ve done good training for and swum really well in in-season, but that wasn’t even as fast as the British Champs, which is disappointing. I made a small slip up on race tactics that has cost me a place in the final – I really felt like if I could make it through the two rounds there was the opportunity to do something special tomorrow night, so not having the opportunity to do that is the main disappointment.”

The action resumes at 10.00 (12.00 UK time) tomorrow morning, with James Guy in butterfly action. You can catch all the racing live on FINA TV

Full results from the FINA World Aquatics Championships can be found here.

Highlights will be shown on the BBC Two as follows:

15.45 – 17.15: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
15:00 – 16:00: Saturday
15.30 – 17.00: Sunday
*highlights will also be available on the red button at select times.