The second European Aquatics Championships in as many years began with a bang at the Foro Italico Sports Complex in Rome, with several Brits progressing through the rounds to kickstart the final event of this busy summer schedule.
Off the back of a successful Commonwealth Games for many of the British team, the Europeans began with the Men’s 50m Butterfly, with Jacob Peters missing out on the semi-finals as he finished in 26th. Ben Proud - 2017 world champion in the event - is focusing solely on making it a hat-trick of 50m Freestyle titles in two months here and so did not contest the butterfly event.
The Women’s 100m Freestyle heats saw progression for both Freya Anderson and Lucy Hope, the duo swimming well in separate heats to move through to the semi-finals of the event this afternoon in sixth and 12th respectively.
Brodie Williams was up next, fresh off the back of a two-gold-medal haul in Birmingham across the Men's 200m Backstroke and Men's 4x100m Medley Relay. Here, in the heats of the Men’s 400m Individual Medley, he placed 11th overall, putting him just outside of the final spots by under a second.
Eighteen-year-old Katie Shanahan continued her fine summer as she comfortably progressed to the semi-finals of the Women’s 200m Backstroke, qualifying in fourth place after a well-paced heats effort.
Speaking following her performance, Shanahan was content with her swim and optimistic about the rest of the competition.
“I’m really happy with that. I was a bit tired this morning so I didn’t really know how it was going to go but I’m happy to get the first swim out of the way - hopefully I can build on that tonight in the semi-final and make the final tomorrow night," she said.
“Last year at European Juniors at this pool, it was nowhere near as decked out as this but it’s so good to come back here. I did really well here last year so hopefully I can do the same this year.”
The Men’s 100m Breaststroke followed the Women's 100m Freestyle in seeing two Brits advance, as James Wilby and Gregory Butler made it through to the semi-finals. In what was a bunched up field, Wilby - the new Commonwealth champion over this distance - managed to keep in the mix to finish in seventh, with Butler following up by touching in 16th. Both will be ranked higher due to the two-per-nation rule into the semi-finals.
The relays rounded off the morning for Great Britain, with the Women’s 4x200m Freestyle heats seeing Freya Colbert, Lucy Hope, Tamryn van Selm and Holly Hibbott see GB seventh-fastest into the medal showpiece. The men’s team of the same event, consisting of Cameron Kurle, Ed Mildred, Kieran Bird and Jacob Whittle, also managed to qualify for the final, as they edged out a tight challenge from the Bulgarians to take the last qualifying spot in eighth, thanks in part to a strong third-leg effort from 400m and 800m man Bird.
For full results from the opening heats, click here.