Brock Whiston London 2024

Friday finals serve up tight finishes in London

5 Apr 2024

Friday's Speedo Aquatics GB Swimming Championships action served up a host of dramatic finishes and plenty more nomination times for athletes looking to make their Olympic and Paralympic mark in the summer. 

Brock Whiston claimed the multi-classification (MC) Women's 400m Freestyle title on her way to an S8 Paris nomination standard in an event that also saw Toni Shaw (S9) and Eliza Humphrey (S11) claim their first Paralympic standards of the meet, while Cameron Vearncombe and Rhys Darbey did the same with SM14 standards in the Men's MC 200m IM. 

On the Olympic side, Honey Osrin booked a ticket for her debut Olympics with a brilliant swim in the Women's 200m Backstroke, while Joe Litchfield is going to his second Games after victory in the Men's 100m Butterfly and Duncan Scott delivered emphatic victory and a nomination time in a brilliant Men's 200m Individual Medley final. 

For Brock, securing a British title in such a strong race as the MC 400m Freestyle - out-touching Toni by a marginal two British Para-Swimming points at the end of a thrilling contest - was a great start to her week at the London Aquatics Centre, as she put herself in a strong position for Paralympic selection.

"I missed out on Tokyo, I missed out on the Commonwealth Games, so to get a nomination time for Paris is insane, and then do to a personal best in the final is great," she said.

"Sharing the podium with Toni and Maisie Summers-Newton (who claimed bronze) is amazing, you know you're in elite sport when you're on the podium with them. It's an incredible feeling.

"If you believe in yourself, then it's a possibility. So it's about a lot of positive mental reassurance, and my coach is amazing, my strength and conditioning coach, the Aquatics GB team, we get a lot of support from National Lottery funding - we are just very lucky to be athletes right now in para-sport." 

Honey Osrin London 2024
Honey Osrin

As well as Eliza Humphrey's nomination time from the heats, Alice Tai (S8) and Scarlett Humphrey (S11) also made 400m Freestyle nomination times, with Scarlett breaking her own S11 British record in the process.

The Men's MC 200m Individual Medley was another thriller, as the S14 trio of William Ellard, Rhys Darbey and Cameron Vearncombe battled all the way across the four strokes, Vearncombe moving into the lead by the end of the breaststroke, only for Ellard and Darbey both to move past in the final 25m on freestyle, Ellard winning out, with Darbey taking silver and Vearncombe the bronze.

Crucially, all three were inside the 2:12.91 nomination standard, with Ellard impressing so soon after getting back into the pool following his 100m Butterfly final. 

"The recovery between races has been more about the mental side than the physical side for me - through the 100m Fly I felt really good and the time I did gave me confidence coming into the 200m IM," he said.

"Having Cam and Rhys push me, they're top guys and really good to be on a team with - racing them really helps push me on to the end."

There was also a third British title and Paris nomination time of the week for Stephen Clegg in that MC 100m Butterfly, narrowly ahead of silver medallist Ellard and Vearncombe in third.

"I think the confidence is coming from that ability to continue to put up world-class performances even under a lot of fatigue, three races on the trot is a really tough schedule," said Stephen.

"I've got a fourth one tomorrow but I've got to be prepared for that sort of schedule in Paris as all my target events there are going to be squeezed into seven days. That's a confidence boost today to being able to put in those world stage medal performances and this is the event I really want to win this summer."

One of the tightest finishes of the night occurred in the Women's 200m Backstroke, as Honey Osrin took the race out hard and held on down the final 50m, just keeping a fast-finishing Katie Shanahan at bay to win the gold and go inside the 2:08.91 Paris nomination time, securing her ticket on the Eurostar to her first Olympics.

Duncan Scott London 2024
Duncan Scott

Silver-medallist Katie clocked her second nomination time of the week to put herself well in contention for a maiden Olympics, while her University of Stirling teammate Holly McGill was just outside it in third.

Reflecting on her swim and what it means for her, winner Osrin said: "It just means everything. It's everyone's dream to go to the Olympics, and I'm ecstatic, I'm so happy.  I feel like the biggest challenge tonight was managing my nerves, keeping in control, not let my nerves get the best of me - and I just thought, go out there, have some fun, I knew I'd put in the work."

Closing out the night was the Men's 200m Individual Medley, which saw an imperious performance from Duncan Scott. Already on the Olympic team by virtue of his display in the 100m Freestyle on Thursday, the six-time Olympic medallist was always in control of a brilliant final - and just as he did at the same venue three years ago, he went under 1:56.00 (and well inside the 1:57.49 nomination mark) to claim the British title.

Behind him, Tom Dean placed second and clocked another nomination standard, thanks in part to a characteristically fast freestyle leg, while Max Litchfield followed up his 400m Individual Medley British record with bronze in this one.

"In years gone past, the 200m IM, it'd be fair to say the depth sometimes hasn't been there. But with that, Max right on form in the 400m IM, Deano medalling last year at Worlds, Mark (Szaranek) has medalled at a Commonwealth Games before and there are some young boys putting in some really good performances. I'm really happy with that time at this time of year as well," said Duncan.

"Last time in Olympic year, I was 1:55.9 here. I'm not saying that equals to what I'll go this summer, but that's a good indicator. It's a really early trials, so I guess with that, laying down a solid 1:55 is quite nice. 

"It's nice having a day off now, but now that 200m IM is done, I'll be happy for about a minute and then get myself into my 200m Freestyle head and get ready for those heats, because I'm sure they'll be a dogfight." 

Joe Lichfield London 2024
Joe Litchfield

In the Men's 100m Butterfly, Joe Litchfield dropped a huge personal best to get the better of the centre lanes and book his place at a second Games after his Tokyo debut. Turning fifth in lane two, the Loughborough Performance Centre man charged down the back 50m and timed his finish well to win the gold. 

While his time was outside the individual nomination standard, his 51.71, combined with the winning times in the 100m Backstroke (Oliver Morgan), 100m Breaststroke (Adam Peaty) and 100m Freestyle (Matt Richards), ensured his nomination by virtue of the combined Men's 4x100m Medley Relay mark.

Elsewhere on the night, Holly Hibbott won the Women's 400m Freestyle title ahead of Amelie Blockside and Fleur Lewis, while Harvey Phillips edged out fellow SB3 athlete Lyndon Longhorne in a tight finish on the Men's MC 50m Breaststroke.

Harvey Phillips London 2024
Harvey Phillips

Watch the Speedo Aquatics GB Swimming Championships action online throughout this week on the C4 Sport YouTube channel, with finals (7pm) on BBC Sport and BBC iPlayer.