Ben Proud returned to the top of the international swimming scene in Budapest, as the double world champion took World Cup gold in the Men’s 50m Freestyle on the third and final leg of the swimming series – on a weekend where triple Olympic champion Adam Peaty also returned to the podium for the third time in as many weeks.
After opting against competing in the previous two legs in Berlin and Athens, Proud took to the pool for the first day of action in the Hungarian capital to contest the “splash and dash” event; lining up against Isaac Cooper and Michael Andrew, who the gold medals in the first and second legs respectively.
Coming up level with the field with a solid start, the 29-year old built into his recognisable “windmill” stroke from lane two as the race hit the halfway stage. Although the race was never out of contention, the Brit did manage to maintain a slight advantage as the wall came into view – timing his finish to perfection to finish just under a tenth of a second ahead of Andrew in the centre lane, with Cooper taking the bronze.
After taking the world title in 50m Butterfly at the Duna Arena in 2017, Proud spoke of his delight in being back at the venue and taking the gold.
“I love racing here. It’s an amazing place and I was watching the action these past two weeks so I just wanted to come and join in.
“That was a swim I’m really happy with, it was a good start to the season and was very fun – the crowd’s amazing and the pool’s great.”
After taking a day off, he then returned for the Men’s 50m Butterfly final – taking a bronze medal in a stacked field – this time from lane eight. With the brace of medals adding to his already-impressive list of achievements in the sport, it will only serve as more motivation as he looks to secure a maiden Olympic medal in Paris next summer.
Also stepping onto the podium in Budapest was 28-year old Adam Peaty, as he continued to impress over the one-length breaststroke event to take the silver medal – improving on his time as each leg progressed.
Despite the emergence of Qin Haiyang at the forefront of breaststroke swimming over the calendar year, Peaty did not look fazed as he continued to mount pressure on the Chinese athlete throughout the race; gaining on the leader as they came into the finish to take a clear second place.
He also improved on his two consecutive sixth-place finishes in the 100m Breaststroke from Berlin and Athens – finishing fourth in the event this time round in what looked to be a renewed performance as he looks to defend his Olympic title in the event for what would be an unprecedented third gold medal.
Oliver Morgan was the next-highest British finisher across the weekend, as the 20-year old took fourth, fifth and seventh in the 100m, 50m and 200m Backstroke respectively. The triple British champion looked in good form throughout the competition – even looking like taking a medal at times through the former two events, before rounding off his weekend with a set of promising results ahead of what he hopes to be a maiden Olympic appearance next summer.
Niamh Ward just missed out on a finals spot in the Women’s 200m Backstroke, as she recorded a near-best time to take ninth-place in the event, with 13th and 14th-place finishes in the 50m and 100m Backstroke events respectively rounding off her weekend.
British 200m Butterfly champion Josh Gammon’s best finish at the competition came in the same event; taking eleventh either side of 17th and 19th-place finishes in the respective 50m and 100m events.
In 50m and 100m Butterfly action alongside Gammon was Jamie Ingram, with the 25-year old recording a weekend-best finish of 14th in the latter event, whilst finishing 23rd in both the 50m Butterfly and 100m Freestyle.
Jemima Hall rounded off the British representation from the competition – coming close to making a final herself in the Women’s 200m Freestyle; taking twelfth place in the event with 15th and 16th-place finishes in the 400m and 100m Freestyle respectively.
Away from Hungary, there were two high-profile competitions on the same weekend with representation from a number of high-profile British athletes.
Loughborough University’s International Swim Meet saw podium-topping performances from Loughborough University’s world medallists Lauren Cox and Lewis Burras, with European Junior medallists Reuben Rowbotham-Keating, Leah Schlosshan and Eva Okaro also impressing by topping podiums across the meet.
Chelsea & Westminster and Millfield School also teamed up to host their 2023-2024 Arena Swim Series, with Bath Performance Centre’s Jonathon Adam, Cameron Brooker and Kieran Bird all in action across the weekend.
Click here for the full results from the Budapest leg of the World Cup
Click here for the full results from the Loughborough University International Meet
Click here for the full results from the Chelsea + Millfield International Open