Clean sweep of qualifiers on day four in Budapest

21 Jun 2022

Britain’s swimmers made it a clean sweep of qualifiers on the fourth morning of competition at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest. 

Five individuals plus the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay team were up at the Duna Arena as they looked to build on the momentum created by Tom Dean’s bronze-medal performance on Monday evening.

Among those involved were World Championship debutant duo Jacob Whittle and Lewis Burras in the Men’s 100m Freestyle heats. Both ensured safe passage to the semi-finals, with Whittle qualifying seventh-fastest after a strong back 50m in the final, fast-paced heat. Going in heat nine, Burras controlled his pace to go through 14th overall.

For Jacob, his first individual swim of the week was a good starting point and provided its own little bit of experience as the 17-year-old looks to move things on.

“I was just looking to make it through and come back tonight. It was a nice swim, paced well. It's always going to be hard racing against the big lads, it's a lot different to racing at home, because they go out so much harder,” he said.

“It's just about managing how you swim the race, but I'm really happy with it and looking forward to swimming tonight.

“I was just trying to sit on a wave, and it's just learning which side of the lane you need to be on and how you can actually pace it, so there's some good learnings there.”

A busy programme continued for Medi Harris, as the 19-year-old took to the pool twice this morning, beginning with the Women's 50m Backstroke heats. Having placed joint-seventh in a competitive 100m final the previous night - after a starting error affected her opening to the race - Harris showed great recovery to sprint to sixth-fastest in the 50m heats.

In the Women’s 200m Butterfly, Laura Stephens focused on her own race to get the qualification job done and book a lane for Tuesday’s semi-finals.

The Loughborough National Centre athlete was outside USA’s Hali Flickinger and Summer McIntosh of Canada, who both took the opening strokes out hard. But Stephens managed her efforts well to come fourth in her heat and 10th overall ahead of the next round. 

Laura Stephens 200m Butterfly heats Budapest 2022
Laura Stephens

Just beforehand, Dean was back in the pool following his epic battle in the Men’s 200m Freestyle a few hours earlier. The 22-year-old – coached by David McNulty – did what he needed to do to swim again later in the day, with a solid opening leg of butterfly and then his favoured freestyle stroke allowing him to move through the field and towards the leaders at the wall.

Rounding the session out was that Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay. Lining up for the final heat was a GB quartet of Harris, James Wilby, Jacob Peters and Anna Hopkin, with a new-look British outfit putting together an impressive morning swim to secure a good lane for what is always a dramatic conclusion to any finals session.

With Harris up against a majority of men opening on the backstroke, the Swansea University athlete held her own well to hand over to Wilby, who showed good pace to overhaul the USA outside and move Britain into second at the halfway. From there, Peters launched into a powerful two laps of butterfly, overtaking the Australian team and leaving Hopkin to swim a composed anchor leg to the wall, touching second behind the USA and third-fastest overall.

Reflecting on the unpredictability of the mixed event and Britain’s continued focus on being a dominant force across the relay programme, Wilby said: “It is a strange event. There's a lot to it, a lot of tactics potentially there – but it's one that as a country we really enjoy.

“We're a newish team here exploring some new stuff, we really strongly believe in the relays and that team effect in Britain - and that's something, heading towards Paris, we are going to double down on even more than we did for Tokyo, so it should be really exciting.”

For full results from the heats, click here.

Visit our ‘What’s On?’ page here for a full rundown on how you can watch and listen to every finals swim from Budapest, as well as a look at which athletes are involved in each upcoming session.