Hector Pardoe, Leah Crisp and Amber Keegan have been named in British Swimming’s marathon swimming team for the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, with the Seaside Momochi Beach Park hosting the action from 15th-20th July.
The trio were selected following performances at the Sardinia leg of the World Aquatics Open Water World Cup earlier this month, an event that saw all three athletes finish inside the top 20 of their respective 10km events – after the two-per-nation rule – to ensure their qualification for this year’s major championships.
For Crisp and Keegan, Fukuoka will be their maiden World Championship appearance, as the pair continue their recent step into top-level open water marathon swimming on one of the sport’s biggest stages.
Pardoe, who will meanwhile make his second successive World Championships on the Japanese island, will be looking to equal this feat on an Olympic level in 2024, following his maiden outing for Team GB in Tokyo two years ago.
Speaking on the news of his selection, the 22-year-old was relishing another challenge against the world’s best on the road to Paris.
“It was amazing to qualify out in Sardinia for my second World Championships, and it’s a huge boost of confidence going forwards for this summer and Paris 2024,” said Hector.
“I had last raced open water at the European championships 10 months prior to that, so it was nice to get back in and shake off the rust.”
The three athletes selected from Sardinia then made their way to Setubal last weekend for the next leg of the Open Water World Cup – refining their skills on the Portuguese coast before building back up towards the summer.
Pardoe was once again the highest British finisher across the events – placing sixth in the Men’s 10km, less than a dozen seconds off the medals after a promising showing.
Crisp also went well in what was a strong field, placing 13th, in a group less than 40 seconds off the race winner. Keegan was further back in 20th but showed the drive needed right to the end of a 10km race to reach the conclusion. The pair are both still relatively new to marathon swimming since making the transition from solely pool-focused racing, with their Worlds experience set to be a key stepping-stone for distance swimming in the country.
In addition to fighting for places and medals this summer, the 2023 Worlds also carry qualification places for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris, as the first opportunity for athletes to secure such a spot for their nation.
British Swimming’s Performance Pathway & Distance Lead, Kevin Renshaw, gave his thoughts on the squad selected to head to Japan in less than two months. In addition to fighting for places and medals this summer, this year’s Worlds also carries qualification places for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.
“We’re all looking forward to seeing what Hector, Leah and Amber can do this summer at Worlds. They’ve had some great results in the Open Water World Cup legs and we know they have also learned some very valuable lessons in what is a hugely challenging sport, so we know all of that will help them when they go toe-to-toe with the world’s best – giving them valuable experience ahead of 2024 in the process. We wish them the best of luck for the competition.”
Marathon swimming team selected for the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan (15th-20th July)
Nathan Hilton (Team Leader)
Hayley Baker (Coach)