GB freestyle men secure Olympic relay spot

11 Feb 2024

Great Britain secured an Olympic place for the Men's 4x100m Freestyle Relay while Adam Peaty led the way into the Men's 100m Breaststroke final on day one of swimming at the World Aquatics Championships.

A primary target for the British Swimming team heading to Doha was to cement a lane for the men's shorter freestyle relay contest come Paris 2024, with no time registered from last year's Worlds in Fukuoka.

That job was safely done in the morning heats, as the quartet of Jacob Whittle, Tom Dean, Duncan Scott and Matt Richards rubber-stamped that Olympic relay quota spot by qualifying third-fastest for the final, Richards showing good pace on the anchor leg.

The reigning 200m Freestyle world champion switched to lead-off in the final, when it was Scott who scorched the second-fastest split of the entire race over the final 100m as the GB foursome just missed out on the medals, placing fourth. 

But as they continue to train through this World Championships ahead of April's British Swimming Championships and bidding for Olympic selection, Duncan was pleased with what they had delivered in the relay.

"The job was to be done this morning, but we went pretty quick there, and that'll put us in quite a good place. We've come away from the meet with just what we've needed to do, the bonus would've been to get on that podium," he said.

"That kicks off quite a busy meet for me, but I'm looking forward to it. I can't go anywhere else in the world right now to get this level of racing, so it's perfect."

Dean added: "It is eyes on the big one in terms of that relay now, swimming it at Paris - but before that it's trials at British Championships. I was just saying now, that is just as competitive as any international meet now, especially on the freestyle. That's the first stepping stone, but we got the job done this morning." 

Before the relay finale to night one at the Aspire Dome, Adam Peaty was making his first return to the World Championship stage since 2019 in the 100m Breaststroke.

A solid heats swim was followed up by a strong showing in the second semi-final, the three-time Olympic gold medallist qualifying fastest for Monday's final. 

Adam Peaty Doha 2024 [GettyImages]
Adam Peaty was in Men's 100m Breaststroke action

"I feel good. My objective for this meet was to progress through the rounds, progress physically and in results, but also progress mentally and see what strategies are working, what isn't working. It's more of a test event for us, but obviously we're going to put our best foot forward and put a good fight on," he said.

"After the heats I was like, 'okay, I know what I'm working with and I know what I'm capable of'. But tonight was just about going out there, showing a little bit of Adam Peaty which is a front end, getting a little bit angry with myself like I normally do. Tonight I showed that I can still get it down that back end when I really need to."

Also lining up in the Men's 100m Breaststroke heats, 2019 Worlds silver medallist James Wilby missed out on coming back for the semi-finals by an agonising 0.02 seconds. 

The other Brit to secure a final berth for day two was Abbie Wood, who began her Doha campaign in the Women's 200m Individual Medley. 

Doing what she needed to to progress from heats to semi-final to final, Abbie reflected on this early-season effort ahead of diving in for the showpiece. 

Abbie Wood Doha 2024 [GettyImages]
Abbie Wood

"The World Championships being my first long-course meet of the season is definitely throwing myself in at the deep end. Hopefully I can build on it tomorrow, I'll watch back my races and keep it individual, because so many people are at different stages at this meet - some tapering, some trying to make their Olympic team. So you've just got to try to keep your head on and not let yourself be swayed by other's performances."