A whole host of British Swimming athletes, including those who appeared across the three 2022 major summer international meets, descended on Ponds Forge to represent their universities for the 2022-2023 edition of the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Short Course Championships.
The event forms part of the wider BUCS swimming calendar, which includes a long course event in the late winter and a teams event in the spring. With over 1500 athletes from 85 institutions, the best of British university swimming was on offer over the three-day competition.
The Friday night session saw the distance swimmers take to the pool for the Men's 1500m Freestyle, and it was the British marathon swimming pair of Loughborough University’s Toby Robinson and Swansea University’s Joseph Deighan who managed to take silver and bronze respectively. The night was also complemented by the Mixed 200m Medley Team event to begin the competition, which saw Loughborough power home first by a margin just short of three seconds.
World Junior Open Water medallist Leah Crisp of University of Bath, who also took silver in the Women's 1500m Freestyle event on Friday, went on to take the first gold medal of Saturday as she won the Women’s 800m Freestyle event in a new BUCS record time, with University of Stirling’s World Junior medallist Michaella Glenister taking silver. The aforementioned 1500m Freestyle event was dominantly won by Loughborough's Fleur Lewis - the British long-course champion over the same distance back in April - in a new BUCS best time, before she took bronze in the 800m contest.
The Saturday night saw the first finals session of the competition, and it was Stirling’s European Championship finalist Keanna MacInnes who took gold in the final of the Women’s 100m Individual Medley to open proceedings, before European champion and Saturday morning’s 400m Individual Medley silver medallist Freya Colbert was involved in a scintillating Women’s 200m Freestyle final, as she shared the gold with her Loughborough teammate Paige Madden.
European medallist Lauren Cox then continued the success for Loughborough as she took silver in the final of the Women’s 50m Backstroke, whilst her teammate and fellow medallist at the event Greg Butler touched first in a close Men’s 50m Breaststroke final, before easing to victory in the 200m final on the same night.
A close finish involving Tokyo Olympian Laura Stephens in the final of the Women’s 100m Butterfly saw the former European champion reign victorious, before she was joined by Stirling’s Katie Shanahan amongst the gold medals – as the Women’s 200m Backstroke European silver medallist from the summer took victory in the same event this time round, to add to the gold she won in the 400m Individual Medley earlier in the day.
The Saturday was rounded off with two impressive performances from Loughborough’s Men’s and Women’s 200m Freestyle Teams – as they both took gold with dominant performances.
Sunday saw the final day of action, with Crisp and Colbert taking silver and bronze respectively in the Women’s 400m Freestyle in the morning session, before Stephens added another gold to her tally for the event as she dominated the Women’s 200m Butterfly final in her staple event, with MacInnes taking silver.
Butler then completed the hat trick of breaststroke gold medals as he took victory in the final of the 100m Breaststroke, which was succeeded by Colbert and Shanahan locking horns down the last 50 metres of the Women’s 200m Individual Medley final, with the former just doing enough to touch in first.
Cox added another silver to her record for the competition with a solid swim in the final of the Women’s 100m Backstroke, before the 200m Medley team finals once again showed Loughborough’s dominance – as both teams took commanding victories.
The event rounded off with Loughborough University being crowned overall winners over both the men’s and women’s points tables – a result which will put the East Midlands team well on the way to keeping their streak of over 40 overall BUCS titles in a row.
To see more on the event, plus the full results and live stream, click here