The rain finally eased as the French crowd witnessed a breaststroke masterclass, Adam Peaty breaking the Mare Nostrum record to get the better of compatriot James Wilby in France.
With the British duo looking good in qualifying this morning, their fantastic rivalry was once again the highlight of a busy schedule in Canet, where Britain won no fewer than nine medals on the first of two nights of racing.
With very British conditions greeting the swimmers on the south coast of France, the World Championship bound team weren’t fazed despite it being an open air pool, taking the rain and cold temperatures in their stride. The rain finally ceased midway through the finals session, meaning the crowd could enjoy a Men’s 100m Breaststroke duel that saw Peaty attack the race and Wilby use his strength in the final 25m to deliver a close finish.
In the end Peaty took victory by two tenths of a second, with both men dipping inside 59 seconds. Of where he is at ahead of the World Championships next month, Peaty said:
“I’ve never really gone 58 high at this time of year, so I’m going to look to build through the Mare Nostrum series, here and then Barcelona, and then I’m going to compete in Sette Colli in Rome. So I’m just using this as an opportunity to finalise and tweak both the 100m and the 50m tomorrow, but everything is going to plan. It’s sometimes hard to gauge where you’re at but deep down I know I’m in a good place.”
The night ended as it began, Tom Dean using lane eight to his advantage to swim his own race and strike gold in the Men’s 200m Freestyle. Thanks to a strong opening length, Dean already had half a body length on his competitors, whom included Duncan Scott, and in truth he never looked back, delivering an extremely mature performance to take the win. Scott was at the opposite side of the pool, equally isolated, but like Dean gave a good account of himself to take bronze.
Of his win, Dean explained:
“I’m very happy to move that on from Monaco two days ago – I changed my plan a little bit as 200m Freestyle is such a tactical game, but I just gave it a bit more oomph from the start and it paid off. It’s tough in the outside lane as you can’t see people as much, but luckily on the second and fourth 50m I was able to get a view of where the rest of the field were and judge it.”
Also in good form after travelling in from the Monaco leg of the series was James Guy, the National Centre Bath swimmer climbing onto the top step of the podium for the Men’s 100m Butterfly. Having qualified quickest the Brit was the man to beat, but he went over a second quicker than in the heats to run out a convincing winner. First off the blocks in the finals session was Georgia Davies, and she repeated her winning performance from this morning, touching first to take gold in Women’s 50m Backstroke.
Sticking with the 50m events, Ben Proud was in action in the Men’s 50m Freestyle, the World Championship medallist advancing to the final as fastest qualifier this morning. With conditions still cold and wet early in the programme, Proud produced a great in-season swim, only denied gold on the touch by Brazilian world silver medallist Bruno Fratus, who had to break the meeting record to stop him.
Proud was rightly pleased with his effort, commenting:
“Looking at the names in the top eight it really was a world class field, so to be able to go in and race against them is really good preparation for Gwangju this summer. Everyone is at different stages right now but I’m just trying to be as best prepared as I can be for five or six weeks’ time.”
Also in action in the splash and dash 50m was Anna Hopkin, the young Brit taking a fine silver medal in the women’s race behind only Russia’s Mariia Kameneva.
Moving up in distance Luke Greenback bagged bronze in the Men’s 200m Backstroke final, the Mel Marshall coached swimmer moving it on from his performance this morning to secure a podium spot. Having qualified seventh in the women’s equivalent Laura Stephens improved to sixth in the final, a solid effort as she gears up for her first long course World Championships. Stephens was back in action in the 100m Butterfly alongside Alys Thomas, the European bronze medallist finishing sixth, with Stephens eighth. Thomas will contest her favoured 200m event tomorrow.
Sticking with the women, Molly Renshaw improved on her heat swim to finish fifth in a strong Women’s 100m Breaststroke final won by Yuliya Efimova, whilst Siobahn-Marie O’Connor was fourth and Aimee Willmott eighth in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley. Rising endurance star Daniel Jervis continued to hone his speed, the 1500m specialist stepping down to the 400m to deliver a very solid swim that earned him a fifth place finish.
With the rain still falling in the South of France, a number of Brits were in action in B Finals earlier in the afternoon, Freya Anderson setting the standard with a convincing victory in the Women’s 50m Freestyle. Back in action just 15 minutes later, Anderson contested the 200m Freestyle, finishing seventh, with Holly Hibbott working on her speed in sixth. Given the standard of the Men’s 200m Freestyle Max Litchfield and Calum Jarvis had to make do with a place in the B final, the National Centre Loughborough swimmer pushing out hard and leading the way through halfway, however coming down the final length it was still all to play for, a blanket finish seeing Jarvis finish third, touching just 0.06 ahead of his teammate in fourth.
Full results from day one at the Mare Nostrum Swim Series in Canet can be found here
The second day of competition in France gets underway at 9am CET tomorrow morning.