Renshaw smashes British record with breaststroke brilliance

15 Apr 2021

Molly Renshaw saved the best for last on the second evening of finals at the British Swimming Selection Trials, obliterating the British record in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke in a final that served up two Olympic consideration times. 

Renshaw – who matched the previous British best in February’s Manchester International Swim Meet – showed her intentions from the opening strokes, leading after 50m and never relinquishing that advantage to clock a remarkable 2:20.89, more than a second faster than her and Jocelyn Ulyett’s previous British mark. 

Abbie Wood was never far behind, and she also went under that previous British best with a stunning effort, touching well inside the 2:23.37 Tokyo consideration standard to ensure both Loughborough National Centre athletes put their names in the hat to be on that plane to Japan in the summer. 

It was a final that brought the Thursday curtain down in style – and one that leaves Renshaw relishing what could come next. 

“I knew how well I was doing from Manchester, so I was excited to taper down and see what I could do. I’ve had bad luck with Olympic trials in the past, so that’s out the way and I’m so happy to have done the consideration time,” she said.

“I think I’d just like to improve on what I did at the last Olympics. Going there, I was over the moon with making a final – I want to take that next step this year and aim for medals and be on the podium. 

“Abbie trains so hard, she’s probably one of hardest trainers I know, so to be able to do that with her alongside me, it was amazing!”

Abbie Wood 200m Breaststroke BSST 2021
Abbie Wood also went under the 200m Breaststroke consideration time

As for Wood – who, like Renshaw, trains under David Hemmings – it was exactly what she had aimed for after narrowly missing the 200m Freestyle time on day one.

“It’s such a relief after yesterday where I wouldn’t say I was gutted, but I expected a bit more from myself – so today, I was really focused on the race and obviously me and Molly pushed each other as best we could, and it worked out well,” she said.

“I think the improvements are down to trusting in my coaches. I never used to be a fan of the gym, but I feel like I’ve really bought into the programme now. It’s been five years coming and I’m glad I stuck at it as long as I did, because there were times when I was ready to hang up my goggles. I’m glad I didn’t now!”

The Renshaw-Wood result was not the only consideration double of the night, as University of Stirling duo Kathleen Dawson and Cassie Wild both excelled in the Women’s 100m Backstroke final.

Dawson laid down the second-fastest time in the world this year to tear past the Olympic consideration time of 1:00.23 by nearly two seconds, narrowly missing out on Gemma Spofforth’s British and European record, set during the textile suit era. 

“I’m completely delighted with that, I didn’t quite expect to go as fast as that. I’m over the moon – and to do the consideration time with Cassie makes it even better,” said the 23-year-old.

“I can’t thank our coaches Bradley Hay and Steve Tigg enough, and my coach Darren Ashley from back at Warriors of Warrington, I wouldn’t be here without him. There are too many people I need to thank for this!

Kathleen Dawson 100m Back final BSST 2021
Kathleen Dawson was in stunning 100m Backstroke form

“I can’t thank the coaches and support staff enough across British Swimming and Scottish Swimming. They put in the hours as well and I’m genuinely grateful for all that they do. Looking ahead I will continue with the hard work, continue to enjoy my sport and apply myself to training. It really will be just business as usual.”

Wild, who recorded a personal best, added: “I’m absolutely over the moon with that. Like Kat said, it’s nice for us to do it together. Prep has been going well, I was hoping to go under the consideration time. Seeing everyone from Stirling do so well yesterday, I was looking forward to racing tonight.”

James Guy did what he so often does best on the big occasion to go inside the Tokyo consideration standard and claim the win in the Men’s 200m Butterfly final. 

Two-time Rio 2016 medallist Guy exploded off the blocks, going out under world-record pace and then ensuring he held on well to dip under the 1:55.45 requirement in gutsy fashion. 

Second and third respectively went to Jay Lelliott (City of Sheffield) and Ed Mildred (Northampton), with both smashing their previous lifetime bests in the process. 

“It’s nice to come here and do the 200m Butterfly, I haven’t done one like this for a long time,” said the quadruple world champion. 

“The time wasn’t really in my head because it’s not my main event – but to go the qualifying time is a great start to the week. I was talking to Dave [coach David McNulty] before, the target was 54.0 for the first 100m, so a 53 shows the speed is there, so hopefully it’ll be a good 100m as well.”

James Guy 200m Fly heats BSST 2021
James Guy

Elsewhere, Joe Litchfield followed up a consideration time performance in the 200m Individual Medley on day one by clinching victory in the Men’s 100m Backstroke on day two, thanks to a second personal best for the day. 

The former City of Sheffield man held off Luke Greenbank – who is already pre-selected for Team GB this summer – to take the title, building on his heat swim and coming agonisingly close to another Tokyo requirement mark. 

The Men’s 800m Freestyle featured an intriguing three-way battle between Daniel Jervis, Kieran Bird and Toby Robinson for much of the 16-lap contest. 

Jervis took it out powerfully with 200m to go and built enough of a lead to see off Bird – who came back strongly, as he did to go under the 400m consideration time on Wednesday – to claim the gold. Jervis did miss out on the 800m consideration standard by an agonising 0.37 seconds despite the victory – but the Adam Baker-coached athlete used his post-race interview to say he is determined to “smash it on Sunday night” in the 1500m Freestyle. 

Leah Crisp (Bath National Centre) opened up the second night of finals in London with an assured swim from the front to claim victory in the Women’s 800m Freestyle fastest heat, finishing ahead of Emily Clarke (Loughborough University) and Ellesmere College’s Lauren Wetherell.