James Guy stormed to an impressive Men’s 100m Butterfly victory to provide one of the highlights on the opening morning of finals at the British Swimming Glasgow Meet.
Guy showed his excellence on the international stage in claiming a bronze in this event at last month’s European Championships – and the Bath National Centre man has clearly carried that form to the Tollcross International Swimming Centre, laying down a time that was barely one tenth of a second slower than in that European showpiece.
After a promising opening 50m, the David McNulty-coached athlete ensured he finished strong too, putting in a morning performance that took even himself by surprise.
“Considering we’ve just driven 450 miles to get to Glasgow, what a great swim! That was very unexpected, since Europeans we’ve been straight back into work with the eye on the bigger prize of Tokyo – but what a great swim to start the meet off,” he said.
“We came back from Budapest, we had one aerobic session and since then we’ve been in the middle of work. This meet here is a prep meet, trying new things before Tokyo, and obviously morning finals is a big part of that. So to do that time in the morning is a good time.
“I’m in a great place, I feel really confident with what I’m doing. I feel happy at home, and I think having that balance between swimming and lifestyle at home is really important. Everything is coming together quite nicely.”
Another of the many individual British medallists from Budapest who was in finals action on Friday was Abbie Wood. The versatile Loughborough National Centre athlete – who is preparing for her Olympic debut in Tokyo – produced a comfortable heats swim the previous evening, before building on that foundation across the four strokes in the final.
Wood used her favoured breaststroke leg to put real distance between herself and nearest competitor Alicia Wilson, bringing it home on freestyle to touch in a faster time than the one that brought her European silver recently. Wilson was second, with Aimee Willmott third.
“I think it was tough for everyone to get up, my only goal was just to go faster than last night – I did that and so it’s putting good practice in for Tokyo. You can’t have excuses because everyone’s in the same boat, it’s about who has prepared the best – and British Swimming putting on morning finals is preparing the team really well,” said the former Derventio Excel swimmer.
“By the time I got to the 200m IM final in Budapest, it was my ninth race. I love stepping up for the team, but I’ve not had chance to do the 200m IM at the start of a meet yet, which is probably why that was a bit quicker. It’s nice to see where I am when I’m not done in by lots of races like I had done at Europeans. It’s set the meet off in a nice way.”
The Men’s 200m Individual Medley saw Joe and Max Litchfield in the centre lanes after Thursday’s heats – and the Pontefract brothers would ultimately be separated by a mere 0.01 seconds by the end of a strong final.
But while Max was second and Joe third, it was the University of Stirling’s Duncan Scott who pulled clear down the final 50m to claim victory, at the start of what will be another busy meet for the Steve Tigg-coached man. It will also seemingly be a weekend of practicing race strategies, too.
“Time wise it was good but I guess you can’t really look into a time. I’m not here to focus on the time, I’m learning things for morning finals. I’ve done quite a lot of preparation for that,” said Scott.
“From a British Swimming point we’re all looking at different things here. People are trying out different things and I think it’s quite a good idea to have this meet on. It’s a good exercise to trial and really improve on what we can do in the morning before we have finals.”
In the multi-classification events, Northampton SC’s Maisie Summers-Newton was in promising form in the event that brought her a world title in 2019.
Summers-Newton built her lead steadily over fellow SM6 competitor Ellie Simmonds, touching inside her time from the British Para-Swimming International Meet – again, under the Paralympic consideration selection mark.
With Tokyo getting ever closer, every swim of such control is a confidence-building one for the teenager.
“I’m really happy. A 3:01, that’s quite a solid race for me, it gives me quite a bit of confidence for training into the Games because it’s less than 100 days away now. I’m really happy with it,” said Maisie.
“I put a little bit of pressure on myself because we are getting such limited times to race, but every time I do, I’m always like, ‘that went quite well!’ It’s great for everyone to be together, just to see everyone else race as well, it’s good for that aspect too. You’ve got the Scottish guys up here, this is like their home, and it’s great to see everyone. I’ve also got my Northampton teammates here and it’s nice to see everyone from home.”
The Men’s 200m Backstroke final served up a much closer finish than the women’s equivalent. Elliot Clogg led the way in the heats, but he was narrowly beaten to victory by world and European medallist Luke Greenbank. Greenbank – who trains under Mel Marshall – had to work until the very last stroke to ensure he touched first, but he did enough as he steps up his preparations for an Olympic bow in Tokyo.
Kathleen Dawson will also be appearing at her first Games next month – and she will be champing at the bit to get on the plane after another eye-catching display in the Women’s 200m Backstroke final. While the 100m is her favoured event, the 23-year-old – one of the Steve Tigg and Bradley Hay cohort – showed her abilities over the longer distance here, getting to the front and then using her stunning speed in the back end of races to pull clear in the final lap.
“It’s good to be able to come into this and adapt to doing morning finals. I did well, I’m happy with the swim. I did everything I could to beat Cassie’s Scottish record but it wasn’t to be! We’ve both been swimming so well in training and she absolutely deserved it and I was really pleased for her,” she said, referencing training partner Cassie Wild’s exceptional silver in the 200m in Budapest.
“I’ve got confidence in my ability to come back in that last 50m on the 100m, so to be able to swim that well as that in the morning in the 200m gives me a lot of confidence for the morning finals in Tokyo.”
Elsewhere, sprint specialists Anna Hopkin and Ben Proud did the business to reach the top step of the podium in the 50m Freestyle races, with both clocking promising times at a point in the season where heavy training is still on the schedule. Having waited until the final couple of days to compete at the British Swimming Selection Trials in April, Proud in particular will have been pleased to turn up and show his world-class abilities so early in the meet. Sixteen-year-old Jacob Whittle, meanwhile, continues to impress, finishing behind Proud for second.
The mixed classification 50m Freestyle events featured the tightest of finishes between Hannah Russell (S12) and Toni Shaw (S9), as Russell edged out Aberdeen-based Shaw by a mere two points. Louis Lawlor (S14) went under 25 seconds with an outstanding effort to comfortably win the men’s race.
Elsewhere, Daniel Jervis led home the field in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle, a fortnight after placing fifth in the event on the European stage. In the Women’s 100m Butterfly, first-time Olympian Harriet Jones overhauled fellow up-and-comer Keanna MacInnes down the final 25m to claim victory, while world record holder Stephen Clegg was brilliant in taking the Men’s MC 100m Butterfly title.
The session was then closed out by the 50m Breaststroke events. Adam Peaty was characteristically dominant to power to men’s victory, fresh from his successful ‘quadruple quadruple’ campaign in Budapest, while Sarah Vasey set herself up well for the 100m contest by winning the women’s race. In the heats on Thursday, Scott Quin broke the British S14 record over the 50m Breaststroke.