Silver the order of the day in Budapest

19 May 2021

Great Britain’s swimmers continued to impress on the third night of the European Aquatics Championships, adding a further two silver medals to their tally, putting them second on the medal table.

There was yet more relay success on Wednesday evening inside the Duna Arena, the fourth such medal for the British cohort, as the team claimed silver in the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle, breaking their own Championship Record from Glasgow three years ago - but the Russians went even quicker to clinch gold.

Lead-off man Tom Dean, fresh from a 100m personal best earlier in the night, produced an opening leg right out of the top drawer, before handing over to his National Centre Bath teammates Matt Richards and James Guy, who both swam extremely well to send Duncan Scott into the water in second and in pursuit of the Russians.

With a healthy deficit to claw back, it was even too much for Scott, who booked his place in the 200m Individual Medley final just 20 minutes previous – but he closed the gap with a typically classy swim to secure silver.

Guy has been on fine form this week, producing no fewer than three 1:45 splits in 36 hours, as he and Dean secured their third relay medals in as many days. Afterwards, he commented:

“The past few days have been hard, doing back-to-back events, but the major meet is in the summer and this is all part of the process for that. We’re trying to bounce on from the trials to now, and tonight’s swim was a good race from all four boys and I think we know we can drop a bit more in 10 weeks’ time and challenge for a nice medal.”

Richards added:

“Just making the Olympics has been a dream of mine for a long time, so to be part of a team that’ll be challenging for a nice shiny medal come the summer will be amazing. It’s a huge learning experience for me being on this relay as it’s a very different event swimming it on a relay as it is as an individual but I’m surrounded by a lot of guys who’ve got a lot of experience and knowledge to pass down to me, so I’m in a good position and looking forward to going again in the summer.”

Once again it was a great team effort, aided by the swims of Calum Jarvis and Max Litchfield in the prelims earlier in the day.

Kathleen Dawson turned her fantastic early season form into a first individual international medal for five years with a brilliant 50m Backstroke performance. The University of Stirling swimmer set a new British record in the semi-finals last night, and backed it up tonight with another quick time, but more importantly a trip to the podium.

Dawson hasn’t had it easy over the past few years, but has shown desire and resilience to find herself in the form of her life in 2021. Speaking with a medal around her neck, she said:

“I'm super pleased with myself, given everything I've been through over the last five years since 2016 - it's been a hard journey, but I'm so glad I've made it back on to the podium, especially in the 50m, where I didn't come into the meet expecting a medal.

“I was a bit stagnant for a while, even before my knee injury. As soon as I did it, I knew my swimming career wasn't going to be over - so I'm really glad I stuck it out. I had such a great team behind me that got me back in the pool, I'm really pleased for myself and I'm really pleased for them too.

“For me, I can't just sit back and think, 'I've done my job now' - I've got to keep pushing because I know I've got Cassie Wild behind me who's ready to just take my place at any point. It's great having her there.”

There was also a super swim for Cassie, who once again lowered her personal best to finish fourth in her first European final. Getting better with every round, the Bradley Hay-coached swimmer, who trains alongside Dawson day in, day out, said:

“I'm over the moon to have done three 50m races and three PBs! I've trained through this meet, so that's why I'm quite surprised. It's been three years since I've been anywhere near my 50m PB, so I'm just looking forward to the 100m and 200m now.”

Earlier in the night, Dean set a new 100m Freestyle lifetime best in the final of that event to take seventh in a strong field, as he gears up for a tilt at his favoured 200m Freestyle, which starts tomorrow morning. Out in lane eight, the David McNulty-coached youngster swam his own race, never far from contention as he continues to demonstrate his ability at the very highest level.

Shortly afterwards followed the Women’s 100m Breaststroke final, where National Centre Loughborough duo Molly Renshaw and Sarah Vasey finished a very credible fifth and sixth. Renshaw, fresh from breaking the British record the night before, finished strongly to move up a couple places in the final 25m – she’ll start her 200m campaign tomorrow. For Vasey it was the opposite, the sprinter flying down the first 50m to lead the way, holding on strongly for sixth in her first European final.

The Men’s 1500m Freestyle got proceedings underway on Wednesday night, Dan Jervis toeing the line for Great Britain and delivering a superb fifth-place finish. Jervis swam a strong but measured opening 200m, as on his inside Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri went off like a rocket – it transpired the Swansea man would then be locked in a three-way tussle for bronze for the remainder of his maiden European final, eventually settling for fifth.

Luke Greenbank showed grit and determination to break his 100m Backstroke personal best and snag a spot in tomorrow night’s European final. Having seen the previous semi-final was quick, he knew he needed to be in the top four to give himself a chance of progressing, and battling hard down the final 25m he dragged himself into that spot, much to his delight:

“I’m absolutely over the moon with that. I was a little bit off the pace at trials due to injury, so to come here and do that in high volume work, I’m really happy with it and over the moon to make the final.”

There was also a smooth passage for both Duncan Scott - just 20 minutes before the relay final - and Max Litchfield in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley semi-finals. Litchfield went in the first race, replicating his morning effort with a second place finish. Scott, conserving energy for the relay, was third in the quicker of the two. Both men will expect to be in the medal shake-up tomorrow.

Great Britain will also have two men in tomorrow’s 200m Breaststroke final after Ross Murdoch and James Wilby delivered the goods to finish third in their respective heats. Steve Tigg-coached Murdoch looked to be getting back towards his very best form, as he went faster than he did in London last month when securing his Olympic berth.

Sticking with the 200s, Freya Anderson made sure of one of the middle four lanes in tomorrow’s Women’s 200m Freestyle final, a calm and composed semi-final swim seeing her home in second place, fourth overall. After a classy heat swim this morning, 17-year-old Tamryn Van Selm couldn’t quite do enough to make the final, but can be proud of her efforts on her senior debut.

Full results can be found here