A quartet of Britain's top marathon swimmers have been selected for next month's World Aquatics Championships in Doha - when Olympic qualification for Paris 2024 will be up for grabs.
Spearheading the four-strong team is Tokyo Olympian Hector Pardoe, who ended a successful 2023 by finishing fourth in the final leg of the World Aquatics Open Water World Cup in Madeira in December - less than a second off the podium - and ultimately closing the year seventh in the World Cup rankings, having placed 10th at July's World Championships in Fukuoka as he strengthens his status on the sport’s biggest stages.
Hector was joined in Fukuoka by Amber Keegan and Leah Crisp, and that duo are again part of British Swimming's World Championship marathon team as they continue to progress over the longer distance events following transitions from the pool in recent years.
Amber ranked 18th on her Worlds debut last summer and notched a top-20 finish at the World Cup closer in December, while Leah was two places back in that race and is gearing up for action at the Old Doha Port when the Women’s 10km race kick-starts the marathon swimming schedule on Saturday 3rd February.
Completing the Doha-bound GB outfit is Toby Robinson, whose last World Championship outing came in Budapest in 2022 and who will be looking for a strong start to 2024 at his fourth Worlds in a GB cap.
Team GB can still qualify two Olympic quota spots on both the women's and men's sides for the 10km events at Paris 2024. The top 13 finishers in Doha, notwithstanding the three medallists from each event at the last World Championships, will obtain a quota place for their National Olympic Committee.
“With Olympic year now upon us, we are really excited to see what this team of marathon swimmers can do in Doha as they look to secure those Paris 2024 quota places,” said British Swimming Performance Pathway and Distance Lead Kevin Renshaw.
“These athletes were selected on the back of some strong swims in Madeira just before Christmas, with Hector and Amber having already met the selection criteria after their impressive performances at the last World Championships in Fukuoka. Each one of these swimmers has moved on both their experience and performance levels in the marathon events over the past season, and we know they are preparing excellently for what is a huge set of races next month.
“As ever, the quality of the field means the events in Doha will also provide a valuable racing opportunity so early in the season.”
Looking ahead to a pivotal event in the 2024 calendar, Robinson said: “I am hugely excited and well-prepared for the upcoming World Championships. This race will determine a world champion but also allocates selection spots for the Olympic Games this summer, so it makes this one of the most important of my career. My winter training has gone spectacularly well so far, which gives me huge confidence in getting a great result in Doha.”
Ahead of her second successive World Championships, Keegan added: “I’m just in the last bit of hard work now before tapering ready for Doha. Training is going well, and I’m itching to get back to marathon racing. It’s pretty wild to be heading to my second World Champs and for a shot at Olympic qualification.
“Through my five or so years of injury and illness, I thought I had lost my shot at the Olympic dream, so I’m incredibly grateful and excited for this second chance! I’ll give it my all – and it’s cool that we have a team of four at the Worlds this time too.”
British Swimming marathon swimming team for 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar (3rd-8th February 2024):
Leah Crisp, Bath Performance Centre (England)
Amber Keegan, City of Sheffield (England)
Hector Pardoe, Loughborough University (Wales)
Toby Robinson, Loughborough University (England)
For full schedule details on Doha 2024, visit the event's official homepage on the World Aquatics website