Duncan Scott claimed yet another 200m Freestyle victory in Saturday’s British Swimming Glasgow Meet finals – while eye-catching swims from Laura Stephens and Cameron Kurle put them into Olympic consideration territory.
The Men’s 200m Freestyle finale is now among the blue-riband events when it comes to British aquatics, and it was another stellar field that took to the Tollcross pool this time around.
University of Stirling man Kurle had raced to a new personal best in Friday’s heats, and he set out at a blistering pace to lead at halfway in the final. Teammate Scott’s irrepressible ability to come back saw him move to the front down the third 50m, with the European silver medallist over that distance finishing strongly to claim the win ahead of Bath National Centre pair Tom Dean in second and James Guy in third.
Kurle, meanwhile, finished fourth and became the latest person to dip under the 200m Freestyle Olympic consideration time, earning a shout out from Scott afterwards.
“Look at that, that's a world-class field right there. I've got to say a special mention to Cam Kurle. To go 1:46.6 at night, coming back, being in lane four of a heat like that and going 1:46.9, it would've been a PB if he didn't swim last night. He's a really good training partner as well,” he said.
“It's always a pleasure racing those boys, really honest efforts throughout the season. It's a really good, competitive environment, which is what you need.
“It's really good to see. With it being a relay event as well, as much as we all are competing against each other, it makes it a special rivalry because we are teammates at the end of the day. I think that comes first, and then the rivalry comes second. It's a really positive place to be in and it has moved on in the last couple of years - Cam this morning, Joe Litchfield last night as well. Hopefully he's given the selectors a bit of a headache.”
Another athlete to go inside a consideration mark for the second time in 24 hours was Plymouth Leander’s Laura Stephens, who put together a well-paced race to win the Women’s 200m Butterfly.
Stephens obliterated her PB in Friday’s heats, and she backed that up on Saturday morning, keeping close behind international teammate Alys Thomas down the first 100m and then turning on the speed at the opportune moment to claim another fantastic result and outline her Olympic credentials.
“I couldn't really ask for much more at this meet. It's been really tough turning it round after Selection Trials, having a bit of a disappointing swim there, and Europeans also, more strong swims but outside the consideration time. So to come here and get it twice, with a pretty substantial PB yesterday, was really the icing on the cake. Third time's a charm, isn't it?!” said the Robin Armayan-coached athlete.
“In all honesty, I didn't come in with any expectations, I just came in with an open mind. We've been in a bit of a difficult situation with training, do we taper, do we not taper, so I'm not exactly fully rested for this meet. I just came in and thought, 'it's my last shot, so I'm going to give it everything I have' - and it's paid off.”
There were a host of other standout swims on the second morning of finals in Glasgow. Just before the thrilling Men’s 200m Freestyle showdown, Edinburgh University’s Lucy Hope followed up the fastest swim in the heats to triumph in the Women’s 200m Freestyle, building a solid buffer over Freya Anderson in the opening half of the race to be able to hold off Anderson’s pace down the final 50m.
The 100m Breaststroke finals all served up entertainment. Loughborough National Centre teammates Molly Renshaw and Sarah Vasey always provide nip-and-tuck contests in the women’s race, and so it proved again, with Vasey taking it out strong, only for Renshaw to peg her back down the home straight and touch first ahead of her favoured 200m heats later in the day. Kara Hanlon also swam well for third.
Adam Peaty, meanwhile, moved it on strongly from heats to final in the men’s finale to claim his customary win over two lengths of breaststroke as he continues the preparations to defend his Olympic title.
“That was a really good time. I thought if I could get to 58-mids here, with no crowd and not such a big atmosphere, I could do it anywhere. That would nearly have won Europeans and I'm on my backside. It's looking good,” said eight-time world champion Peaty.
“The stroke feels strong, training's going well, mentally I'm in a great place. But going into the Olympics, a lot changes, so I just want to maintain consistency now, enjoy the ride, all the work is pretty much done, so it's just tuning up now and putting on a good show.
“I always want a smooth stroke. Everything is pointing towards going near a PB, a world record, but it's never as simple as that. We'll go back to training, see what we've got and enjoy it.”
There was another British record for Grace Harvey in the Women’s MC 100m Breaststroke, a day after she bettered her own mark for the SB5 category.
The Hoddesdon athlete clocked a 1:41.42 to knock three tenths off the record she set on Friday – and Harvey is continuing to show impressive form off the back of a stunning set of swims at the British Para-Swimming International Meet in April.
“That was a great swim! I learned from the heats last night and just continued to build my stroke throughout the race. I'm now really hoping to have a decent 100m Freestyle. It's not an event I've really been looking at, I just want to enjoy the swim, really,” said Grace.
Scott Quin also improved on his heats time to claim victory in the Men’s 100m MC Breaststroke, while Tom Hamer – back from winning two medals at the recent World Para Swimming European Open Championships in Madeira – came out on top in the Men’s 200m MC Freestyle.
In the Men’s 200m Butterfly, Ed Mildred of Northampton SC broke his personal best from the Selection Trials to edge out Jay Lelliott (City of Sheffield) in an intriguing centre lane battle.
The 400m Individual Medley titles went to the David Hemmings-coached duo of Abbie Wood and Max Litchfield. Wood, making a rare appearance over the longer medley format, did much of the damage to her rivals with a dominant breaststroke leg, bringing it home well on the freestyle to complete a medley double for the meet.
Moments later, Litchfield was also using the breaststroke section to take control of his race and move away from Charlie Hutchison (Loughborough University) and Brodie Williams (Bath National Centre), knocking four seconds off his heats swim in an encouraging performance.
Saturday’s finals session began with the 800m Freestyle races. Daniel Jervis completed a distance double by pacing himself nicely to finish well clear in the men’s race – an impressive feat considering the hard training he is in over such distances at this stage of the season – after Emily Clarke won the women’s event, controlling her stroke rate to claw back an early lead for Lauren Wetherell and ultimately winning out.
The session concluded with 50m Backstroke contests. Abby Kane and Ellie Challis went head-to-head in the MC final, before Kathleen Dawson continued her dominance of the women’s backstroke events, beating Georgia Davies and Cassie Wild into second and third respectively. In the last race of the morning, Martyn Walton (University of Stirling) won the men’s race.