Proud, Stephens and Clark show form in the heats

16 Aug 2022

Seven Brits progressed through from Tuesday's swimming heats at the European Aquatics Championships in Rome to set up a packed penultimate night of racing at the iconic Foro Italico.

Among those setting the pace were Ben Proud, Imogen Clark and Laura Stephens, whose first swims of the week saw them power into semi-final spots.

For Proud, that was in the Men's 50m Freestyle, as he goes in search of an unprecedented World Championship, Commonwealth Games and European Championship hat-trick in the space of two months. The world champion looked to have kept plenty back in the tank as he glided into the wall to win his heat and qualify second-fastest overall for the semis.

Earlier in the schedule, Matt Richards clocked an impressive new personal best over one lap of sprinting, touching in 22.38 to knock 0.2s off his previous best - but he was just outside the qualifiers, placing 19th. 

In the Women's 50m Breaststroke, Derventio Excel's Clark swam her fastest-ever heat effort to move through the heats in fourth place. She will be joined in the semi-final call room by Kara Hanlon, whose impressive debut meet for Britain continued, the 100m finalist through in 15th. 

There were also two GB qualifiers in the Women's 200m Butterfly in an event that saw three British swimmers fast enough to go through.

Keanna MacInnes led the way after showing good form in the 100m final the evening before, putting together a well-paced four laps to finish second in her heat and ultimately place herself as the second seed for the semi-finals.

Imogen Clark underwater shot Birmingham 2022
Imogen Clark

In the third heat, Laura Stephens opened her account for the meet by attacking her heat, taking it out fast and holding on as the race progressed to win heat number three and move through fourth. Holly Hibbott went in the same heat and swam well herself, finishing ninth overall to be well inside the required times to qualify. However, the two-athlete-per-nation rule prevented her from swimming again this evening. 

Senior British debutants Jonathon Adam and Jonathon Marshall, meanwhile, will have a lane for the semi-finals of the Men's 100m Backstroke. Adam was the first of a GB quartet in action in the event, and he focused on his own race from lane eight to place himself as the eighth seed. In the next heat, Marshall swam into 13th place. Brodie Williams (21st) and Sebastian Somerset (29th) did not qualify. 

Tuesday's heats concluded with the Mixed 4x200m Freestyle Relay. Kieran Bird, Jacob Whittle, Lucy Hope and Freya Colbert lined up for a British team looking to continue a fine run of relay results thus far in Italy, and they put in professional morning performances to secure lane five in the evening. Hope in particular swam an impressive leg to move the British quartet into second, with Colbert finishing the job off behind France. 

As well as that final and the semi-finals from the above events, British Swimming have Medi Harris (100m Backstroke), Katie Shanahan (200m Individual Medley) and Anna Hopkin (50m Freestyle) going for medals later in the day.

For more info on results, start lists and how to watch every session of swimming on the BBC, click here.