Luke Greenbank timed his breakthrough to perfection as he set a lifetime best to win World bronze in the 200m Backstroke.
Having set a personal best in the 100m event earlier in the week, it was clear the Mel Marshall coached swimmer was in the form of his life as he lined up for the 200m final on Friday, having navigated the rounds with ease.
Drawn in lane three, Greenbank delivered another measured performance, only sixth at the halfway point but showing the utmost confidence in his ability. By the final turn he was right in the mix for bronze, using his strength down the final 25 metres to win his first senior international medal and set a 1.55.85 personal best.
Having won a handful of junior international medals and broken the World Junior 200m backstroke record back in 2015, it has taken Greenbank a while to fully transition onto the senior stage, but tonight in South Korea he tasted the fruits of his labour.
Naturally delighted as he spoke to the media with a medal round his neck, Greenbank said:
“To be up in the medals at a World Championship is a dream come true really. I went in there quite relaxed, but confident, and I just stuck to my race plan and it seems to have paid off. I knew if I had a good last 50m I’d be in for a good swim – it’s quite difficult to put it into words.
“I’ve changed my training programme up a little bit this year, doing a few more metres and a bit more volume, so if I keep that going hopefully I can improve on what I’ve done this year. I’ve had a couple of disappointing years so we tried something new with the training and it seems to have worked!”
The crowd were treated to a humdinger of a Men’s 4x200m Freestyle relay final to end the evening, a race that went all the way to the wire. A British quartet of Duncan Scott, Callum Jarvis, Tom Dean and James Guy lined up in lane one, after Cameron Kurle and Max Litchfield had done a great job in the heats to get them there.
Scott has been on tremendous form all week and he left it all out there as he came home first on the opening leg with a stunning 1.44.91 split, with Jarvis doing an equally good job to hand over to his National Centre Bath teammate, Tom Dean, still in the lead. The David McNulty coached swimmer also put in a strong performance, improving by over second on his lead off leg this morning to hand over to James Guy within a second of the leaders.
In his second swim of the night Guy showed no signs of fatigue, as he swam the quickest opening 100m to reach halfway in the medal shake up. Out in lane one it was impossible to see what was going on in the centre lanes, so he just dug it out down the final 50m to make it a blanket finish.
Other than the winners, Australia, it was too close to call, with the scoreboard confirming that the next four places were separated by just 0.23 of a second. It wasn’t to be for the British team though as they touched a mere 0.06 off a medal, fifth in 7.02.04, just outside the British record.
Asked about his lead off leg, Scott said:
“I’m delighted with my leg but at the end of the day I’m just part of the team and everybody was doing their individual legs and I don’t think anyone had a bad swim. At the end of the day we swam very fast, it’s just that was a very fast race. It was a really solid effort and we’ve got to walk away proud.”
“We’re a competitive team and being on the outside was always going to be hard, and I think if we were a bit further in we’d have been a bit more in the mix.”
James Guy finished:
“I thought it would be a tough race tonight as a lot countries have stepped up this year. It’s faster than we went in Budapest so it was just a very, very fast race to be fair. That being said we’d rather come fifth here than at the Olympics next year.”
Earlier in the night Guy produced another quality swim in the Men’s 100m Butterfly, once again setting a season’s best to advance to the final. Finding his best form of the year out in Gwangju, Guy was swimming from lane seven in the second semi, finishing strongly to produce a 51.69 time for fourth. Overall he was seventh fastest and will go again tomorrow night.
Molly Renshaw has enjoyed a great week and she capped it off tonight with a fifth place finish in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke final. After smashing her lifetime best to make the 100m final earlier in the week, Renshaw came through the rounds with ease to line-up in the final of her primary event.
Using her newly found speed, Renshaw attacked from the get go and was in the mix the whole way but just couldn’t quite bring it back down the final length, touching fifth in 2.23.78, less than a second off the podium.
Afterwards the Dave Hemmings coached athlete said:
“I’m obviously a little bit disappointed, as after last night’s swim I thought I had a lot more in the tank than that. Given how good it felt in the race I really felt I was up there until 150 and then kind of struggled down the last 50. I can’t complain though as I’ve had a much busier week than I expected and the 100 went so much better than I expected, so maybe that’s taken it out of me a little bit.”
Freya Anderson was also in action in her first individual final at world level, the 18 year old contesting the Women’s 100m Freestyle. Having set an impressive 53.31 personal best last night to make the final, the Ellesmere College swimmer once again acquitted herself well, swimming a strong race from lane eight. In the mix all the way, Anderson eventually touched eighth in the second fastest time of her career.
“I was very lucky to be in that final amongst those girls, so I can’t really complain. I would have liked to have gone quicker but I’m way more motivated now and just want to get back in the training pool and piece everything together for next year. Hopefully I’ll have the relay on Sunday and we’ll see what I can do there.”
Ben Proud powered his way into the blue ribband Men’s 50m Freestyle final with a high quality swim that was just outside his season’s best. Taking the preferred lane in the first semi-final, having qualified second quickest this morning, it all came down to the touch as ever in this event; Proud finished second, just 0.03 behind the winner, his 21.56 time seeing him through third fastest.
“It was very close to my season’s best, only a couple of fractions out, so if I can step it on again tomorrow night, which is probably what it’s going to take to get onto the podium, then I’ll be very happy.”
Having squeezed into the Women’s 200m Backstroke semi-finals this morning, Jess Fullalove returned tonight with the aim of going quicker and challenging for a final place. The National Centre Bath swimmer delivered a solid swim, but it wasn’t enough for a final place.
The action resumes at 10.00 (02.00 UK time) tomorrow morning. You can catch the racing live on FINA TV
Full results from the FINA World Aquatics Championships can be found here.
Highlights will be shown on the BBC Two as follows:
15.45 – 17.15:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday
15:00 – 16:00: Saturday
15.30 – 17.00: Sunday
*highlights will also be available on the red button at select times.