Tom Dean and Abbie Wood bagged a brace of medals apiece in the Barcelona leg of the Mare Nostrum series, as six British swimmers scored race victories at the Club Natació Sant Andreu.
With preparations ramping up for the FINA World Aquatics Championships next month, a host of Budapest-bound swimmers were in action across two days of racing against international counterparts in Spain.
Olympic champion Dean took medals across both days of the meet, opening his account with silver in the 200m Freestyle before following up with triumph over half the distance. The David McNulty-coached swimmer had led the pace over the first three lengths of his 200m final only to be outkicked down the final 50m - but his victory in the 100m Freestyle on day two came in a reverse manner, as Dean turned in fifth before powering through the pack on the return leg to take the winning touch.
Anna Hopkin and Freya Anderson added further freestyle podium-topping moments in the Women’s 50m and 200m respectively. Hopkin had been just one place outside the podium places in the 100m Freestyle on the first day in Barcelona, but bounced back to go almost two tenths clear of her rivals for gold in the one-length shootout. Anderson, meanwhile, produced a perfectly-paced effort to claim the 200m Freestyle victory, evenly splitting her middle 50m and moving up a gear at the final turn to pull further clear down the home straight.
Elsewhere, Ben Proud rounded out the freestyle silverware collected by British swimmers with second in the Men’s 50m Freestyle.
Of the six British gold medals won in Barcelona, only one came on the opening day, with Laura Stephens enjoying the top step of the podium in the Women’s 200m Butterfly. Ahead of the meet, the Loughborough-based athlete said she was looking forward to ‘a fight to get the hand on the wall first’ and her Mare Nostrum final on Wednesday will have tested the process of those closing race meters as she took the touch by 0.15s ahead of second.
Gun-to-tape victories followed for Luke Greenbank in the Men’s 200m Backstroke and Molly Renshaw in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke on Thursday. Tokyo bronze medallist Greenbank was closely tracked through the opening 150m by compatriot Brodie Williams, with the British record holder going strong to the finish as Williams ended fourth.
Renshaw’s effort was her first competitive outing of 2022, with the David Hemmings-coached athlete adapting her preparation plan following her pre-selection for Budapest. Nevertheless, her race sharpness remains in tact with a display that saw her build momentum in the early stages to hold off Ireland’s fast-finishing Mona McSharry. The versatile Abbie Wood was also on form in Barcelona, bagging herself a brace of bronzes across the Women’s 200m and 400m Individual Medley contests, while a host of other athletes continued their Worlds preparations with some solid swims.
The team continue on to Canet to compete this weekend in successive legs of the Mare Nostrum series. Find schedule, start list and result information on the official website here.