The Millfield athlete and Olympic champion took down the seven year-old 100m Freestyle Short Course record in style at Ponds Forge, with two of his fellow 4x200m Olympic champions in action across the North Sea in Rotterdam.
Richards achieved the feat at the 2022 Swim England National Winter Championships on two occasions – clocking 45.94 in the heats before a 45.85 performance in the final, touching ahead of second place by a margin of nearly two whole seconds. The result means he eclipses the short course benchmark set by Richards’ British compatriot Ben Proud back in 2015.
The feat was only one aspect of what was an impressive weekend for the Welshman, as he also took gold in the 50m Freestyle event, stopping the clock over seven tenths quicker than the next best finisher.
Speaking to Propulsion Swimming after his achievement, Richards was self-critical of his performance.
“It’s a good day at the office! It’s the first two open records that I’ve ever taken, so I’m really happy with that. This morning’s heat swims was pretty good, There were a few technical elements that weren’t quite right, but I was holding back a little bit.”
“Tonight, there were even more technical elements that didn’t go right, so its frustrating from that aspect, but a really positive thing that the time was still really good so we can take a lot away from it.”
The competition also saw memorable performances from some of Great Britain’s international medallists from the summer across the weekend, including from 50m Breaststroke European medallist Imogen Clark, as she romped to victory in the same event by 1.7 seconds – and finishing just a few hundredths shy of her own British Record.
The impressive swims then continued for the 23 year-old, as she went on to take the 50m Freestyle title just a handful of races later.
Clark’s teammates out at Rome’s European Championships, Medi Harris and Freya Colbert, were also in action over the weekend at Ponds Forge. Harris took both the 50 and 100 metre backstroke titles, in similarly impressive style, while Colbert was also in fine form, as she touched first in both the 400m Freestyle and the 400m Individual Medley.
Also in action over the weekend were Bath Performance Centre and City of Sheffield athletes, as they descended on the Netherlands for the Rotterdam Qualification Meet 2022. The long course event hosted athletes from several European countries, and was the final competition for many international athletes before the World Short Course Championships in a weeks time.
Notable events included a stacked Men’s 200m Freestyle final, with Olympic champions James Guy and Tom Dean taking gold and silver respectively, ahead of third placed Kieran Bird and fourth placed Luke Turley – completing a Bath 1-2-3-4 finish.
Turley and Bird then upped the distance to the Men’s 400m Freestyle event, where they once again contributed to a Bath 1-2 finish, with Turley taking the gold. He then followed this up with a jump to the Men’s 800 Freestyle event – taking silver.
The male backstroke events were dominated by Bath athletes, as Jonathon Adam took both the 50m and 100m gold medals, with teammate and Commonwealth champion Brodie Williams claiming the 200m crown, and 100m silver. Cameron Brooker also took three medals across the same number of events.
The Men’s 100m Butterfly saw more Bath swimmers take to the podium, with James Guy taking the 100m gold, as 100m Freestyle silver medallist Ed Mildred and Jacob Peters took silver and bronze respectively – the latter man also took silver in across the 50 metre event.
Olympic champion Freya Anderson also produced a number of solid early season swims over the weekend, as she secured a silver medal in both the Women’s 100m and 200m Freestyle events.
Leah Crisp continued her impressive rise to the top of women’s distance freestyle, as she edged to victory in the Women’s 800m Freestyle – also taking bronze in the 1500m event. Amber Keegan of City of Sheffield also went well over the 800 metre distance, taking bronze.
Keegan’s City of Sheffield teammates Charlotte Bianchi and Ashleigh Baillie also added to the medal tally for the Yorkshire club – taking bronze medals in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke and 200m Butterfly respectively, with Bath athlete Holly Hibbott taking the gold medal in the latter.
Sheffield’s Candice Hall made the top step of the podium in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley, before Keegan returned to the medals for a final time to take silver in the 400 metre event.
Find full results from the respective meets via the links below: