Great Britain enjoyed a brilliant night in the pool on Wednesday, as the World Championship bound team advanced their preparations by winning five individual gold medals in France.
On the second and final day of competition at the Canet leg of the Mare Nostrum Swim Series, Adam Peaty added his second gold, whilst James Wilby, Duncan Scott and Ben Proud all upgraded minor medals from the previous night.
Perhaps the swim of the night though was Alys Thomas, whom having started as favourite showed great conviction to lead from the blocks all the way to the touch to win the Women’s 200m Butterfly. Extending her advantage throughout with a powerful piece of swimming, the Swansea flyer was over a second clear of her nearest rival, such was the dominance of her performance.
Afterwards she confessed:
“That felt a lot better – much more like my swim. I wanted to have a bit more attack and a bit more bite tonight, especially down the last 50. It was always going to hurt and you’ve just got to fight it!”
Also lining up in the final GB long course debutant Laura Stephens and she finished an impressive fourth, just squeezed off the podium in the final 25m having swum a positive race; like Thomas she improved on her heat time this morning.
Duncan Scott and James Guy both stepped onto the podium after a thrilling Men’s 100m Freestyle final, which saw all eight men separated by just half a second. Swimming in the outside lanes, Scott was to the fore throughout, duly taking the win, whilst Guy came home strongly down the final 25m to snatch the final podium spot.
Speaking post-race Stirling based Scott said:
“It was a really close race in the end, which was good as it’s going to be like that at all major internationals, so it was good to have that sort of race. I wasn’t really aware of my position as I was breathing away from everyone – I could see the boy inside me and just lanes seven and eight, which was quite good as Jimmy [Guy] came back strong.
“Getting an opportunity to race world class athletes quite a few weeks from Worlds is always really good and if anything it just puts you in your place – it’s good I’m learning some lessons here rather than in five or six weeks’ time.”
Just as they were the previous evening, Britain’s breaststroke stars Adam Peaty and James Wilby were in fine form, both taking gold in the 50m and 200m events respectively. Peaty broke his second meet record in as many days to claim top spot, much to the delight of the crowd, whilst in the longer event Wilby finished like a train down the final length of the pool to overhaul long-time leader Shoma Sato of Japan.
Pleased with his efforts over the two days, Wilby said:
“It’s been a tough couple of days of racing, but I’m really happy with the results, especially considering the training work load that has been going on in the lead up to the meet. I feel like I’m in a good place and am looking forward to Barcelona now at the weekend and the rest of the cycle.”
Ben Proud upgraded the silver he won in the freestyle last night to gold in the Men’s 50m Butterfly final, producing a season’s best time, which was a full second quicker than his heat swim, to take the title. A strong start set him up well as he beat a quality field, afterwards reflecting:
“I changed my mind-set this afternoon and tried to execute my race plan as best as I could. I spoke to my coach James and he said to execute my start as I’m supposed to and that was the only thing to focus on. I did that and then found my rhythm.”
Dan Jervis produced a six second 800m lifetime best just moments later to secure silver from lane eight. Swimming on his own throughout, the 1500m specialist looked composed, sticking to his race strategy to great effect as he produced a 7.50.65 swim, only denied gold by a Mare Nostrum record from Norwegian Henrik Christiansen.
Afterwards Jervis commented:
“I was nervous for that as I’m in a tough block of swimming at the moment and that was a really good time. I’m really looking forward to Worlds in a few weeks now – to do that time, when I’m nowhere near tapered, is really good. In fact before I came out here I was saying to my coach how nervous I was, because I knew how hard this competition was going to be because I knew how much training we had done. I’m looking forward to swimming my main event in Barcelona now.”
Also winning silver was young Tom Dean, the National Centre Bath swimmer battling hard in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley final to back up the 200m Freestyle gold he won on Tuesday evening.
Just like the men’s race the Women’s 100m Freestyle was a typically close fought encounter, with Freya Anderson just denied a medal in fourth place. In the mix throughout the Ellesmere College swimmer missed out on bronze by just 0.04 of a second, that swim her best of the meet. Having set a new 24.89 lifetime best last night to win silver in the Women’s 50m Freestyle, and a 26.72 lifetime best in finishing eighth in the 50m Butterfly earlier in the evening, Anna Hopkin couldn’t quite complete the hat-trick, but delivered another quality swim for seventh.
Aimee Willmott just missed out on a podium place as she finished fourth in a high quality Women’s 400m Individual Medley field, headed by Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, the Commonwealth champion putting together a measured effort as she builds towards Gwangju.
After taking gold in the 50m event last night, Georgia Davies returned to the pool to finish fifth in the Women’s 100m Backstroke final, whilst also on the podium last night, Luke Greenbank was back in action, also finishing fifth in the Men’s 100m Backstroke with a very solid in-season swim.
In the Women’s 200m Breaststroke final Great Britain had double representation, Molly Renshaw leading the way with a fifth place finish. Attacking the first half of the race, the National Centre Loughborough swimmer was second after 100m and despite fading slightly she went two seconds quicker than this morning. On the other side of the pool Siobahn-Marie O’Connor was two seconds and two places back in seventh. In the other endurance event of the night, Holly Hibbott secured seventh in the Women’s 400m Freestyle final, like Jervis she too was swimming out in lane eight.
Full results from the Mare Nostrum Swim Series in Canet can be found here
The team will now travel to the final leg of the series in Barcelona this weekend.