Sprint queens Freya Anderson and Anna Hopkin began another shower of Olympic consideration times at the British Swimming Selection Trials on the penultimate night at the London Aquatics Centre.
The freestylers – who train at the Bath and Loughborough National Centres respectively – delivered the tightest of finishes in the Women’s 100m Freestyle final, with both powering under the Tokyo consideration time in fine style.
It was Anderson who took the title by a mere 0.09 seconds, the 20-year-old chasing down Hopkin in the final 25m, after the latter got the better of the opening length.
With both going under the 53.88 mark, it made for a stunning start on the fourth night of finals – and Anderson is enjoying seeing this event go from strength to strength for the British cohort.
“I know how fast Anna is in the first 50m, so that’s the only way I can swim it, to try to claw it back!” said the world medallist, who now trains under David McNulty, having previously worked with Alan Bircher at Ellesmere College Titans.
“It’s amazing we both got under the time - it’s great to see the 100m Free become so competitive. The trials experience has definitely been different, not that much of an atmosphere, but I’ve got a great support team around me who make it seem easy, so that’s made it really fun.”
Hopkin added: “I’m really happy with that. I’d have liked to go a bit quicker, but this year has been so uncertain and it’s been difficult to know what kind of form I’m in, so to be that close to my best time and under the consideration time, I’m over the moon.
“Training’s been great the last few months. I changed programme a year ago, and it’s been great training with Mel Marshall and my new teammates at the Loughborough National Centre. I’m just glad it’s going so well.”
Ben Proud also produced an outstanding display of sprint swimming to clinch the Men’s 50m Freestyle crown and do what he needed to do to be considered for a second Olympic selection.
The former world champion promised so much in the heats, and he bettered that to go well inside the 21.78 Tokyo requirement mark, posting a time that would have won silver at the 2019 World Championships in the ‘splash and dash’ event.
Yusuke Legard of Wycombe District impressed to finish second with a new personal best – but it was Proud who deservedly took the plaudits in his first and only event of the meet.
“It’s a different one this year; I’ve taken away the 100m Freestyle, that’s normally something to get into the competition with – but with Olympics this year, I really want to hone in on that 50m. If I’m going to do that there, then I really have to be able to get up and go when needed”, said Proud.
“Going to the last Olympics was my first one, it was all quite new. I’ve had a host of experience since then, so I’m looking to do the best I can, do the best work going into it and then we’ll see what happens. The 50m is a short race, but there’s lots to think about. We work on details every single day - I’ve always had a passion for it, overthinking into every detail – and it pays off.”
Abbie Wood is enjoying a breakout 12 months – and the versatile swimmer took another step towards the Olympic stage by winning a dramatic Women’s 200m Individual Medley, which also saw Alicia Wilson put in a fantastic swim to get under the 2:11.10 consideration standard.
Wilson led at halfway after the backstroke leg, with Wood – already into selection contention after a fine 200m Breaststroke effort on Thursday – moving to the front through the breaststroke 50m and holding Wilson off down the freestyle anchor leg.
Both swimmers recorded memorable personal bests, Wilson by nearly two seconds, as Britain’s aquatic athletes continue to show enviable momentum.
Speaking to Jazz Carlin afterwards, Wood said:
“I was just wanting to have a fun race tonight. I felt the pressure was off after the 200m Breaststroke and I knew I was in better form than I thought I was, so I just wanted to see what I could get out of me. It was a good race with Alicia.”
Wilson added: “Honestly, when I was sitting and having a nap earlier, I was just wanting to get below 2:11 – so to do that was a shock!
“It’s definitely hard because I don’t have my teammates here. I’m just thankful to have the coaching team I do, because that has definitely compensated for it. Honestly, I’m not sure about my expectations for the summer, just to do my best and see if I can get on a team.”
The Men’s 100m Butterfly final served up another two Olympic consideration times, with James Guy’s impressive meet continuing with victory and Jacob Peters following close behind to touch inside the 51.96 requirement mark.
Peters’ impressive start had him in an early lead – but Guy looks to be hitting real form at the perfect time, and he was never relinquishing the front once he got there, following up superbly on his 200m Butterfly success.
“It’s been a good few days so far, having had a good 200m fly on the first day. That’s the fastest I’ve been for a few years, so things are going quite well. It’s not quite the time I was hoping for, but hopefully I can progress that at the Olympics,” he said.
“I’m going to go back home, have a nice dinner, relax, put on some Benidorm and just chill out!”
Peters added: “Watching Kieran Bird, Brodie Williams and Matt Richards from our squad swimming so well, it was really pushing me on, inspirational. I remember on Wednesday when Kieran did that 400m Freestyle, I was jumping around the bedroom! Obviously I’ve moved to Bath National Centre this year, that’s been a great help. Most of my work was done back at Poole Swimming Club, I’d like to give Barry a big shout out as I wouldn’t be here without him.”
Rounding out a clean sweep of Olympic consideration times for the night, an unforgettable week for Kathleen Dawson got even better, as the University of Stirling athlete followed up her 100m Backstroke victory by pulling a huge PB out of the bag to go under the mark of 2:08.44 in the 200m Backstroke and throw her hat in the ring for a second event in Tokyo.
Dawson knew she was going to need to knock more than a second off her lifetime best to meet the standard, and after taking it out well over the opening half, she tore down the final 50m to make it two wins and two consideration times in the space of three days.
“I’m delighted. It feels amazing. I knew I’d got the job done in the 100m, so I was coming into this and having some fun, as much as you can in the 200m back, so it’s great to come away with the time!” said Dawson, who trains under Bradley Hay and Steven Tigg.
“I’ve just been working really well with the coaches, I’ve been applying myself in training all the time, just doing what they’re telling me to do, and it’s working! I’d love to be in that Mixed 4x100m Medley in Tokyo, I know that’s a huge medal chance so that would be amazing.”
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