Source: British Swimming

Bath-based swimmers win 11 medals at Aquatics GB Champs

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Olympic Champion Tom Dean and Paralympian Suzanna Hext both recorded Paris 2024 nomination times when University of Bath-based swimmers contested the Speedo Aquatics GB Swimming Championships in London.

University of Bath Swimming Club’s Ben Proud also booked his place at a third Olympic Games in fine style, while Tokyo gold-medallist Anna Hopkin is heading to her second after a double title success for the Bath alumna.

There were also gold medals for Team Bath Dual Career student-athlete Joshua Gammon, Holly Hibbott and Kieran Bird, the latter giving the selectors plenty to ponder ahead of next Tuesday’s Team GB Olympic squad announcement after missing the automatic nomination standard by the narrowest of margins.

Dean, coached by David McNulty at the Aquatics GB Bath Performance Centre, booked his place on the Eurostar by winning bronze in a thrilling 100m freestyle final, just a tenth of a second separating the front three. Training partner Jacob Whittle narrowly missed out on an automatic relay berth after placing fifth.

The following night saw Dean finish runner-up to old rival Duncan Scott in the 200m individual medley final but his time of 1:56.44 was well inside the Paris 2024 nomination standard.

He then won bronze in the last race of the week, an incredible 200m freestyle final which saw a blanket finish from the Tokyo 2020 gold-medal quartet of Dean, Scott and former Bath duo Matt Richards and James Guy to ensure they will all be going to Paris together.

Dean, who was on the podium with Richards and Scott in both the 100m and 200m freestyle finals, said: “Coming here and qualifying for Paris was exactly what I wanted to do. I did that in my first race and in the 200m IM. I knew it would take a momentous effort against these boys but we’re going to Paris and we have an Olympic title to defend.”

An Olympic title is the only thing missing from Proud’s stellar CV but he confirmed he will be among the contenders again this summer after scorching to another British 50m freestyle title in 21.25.

“Honestly, coming into this meet, I wasn’t stressed, I just thought it was ticking the box,” said Proud. “I’m super happy to have swum as I should have and, to be honest, the time was something really fantastic.”

Another sprinter in superb form was Sport and Exercise Science alumna Hopkin, who set the Paris qualifying standard by winning gold in both the 50m and 100m freestyle.

“I’m happy with that overall – two nomination times, two wins,” said Hopkin, who represented the University’s Swimming Club during her four years in Bath. “I would have liked to have gone a bit quicker but I really can’t complain with my consistent times throughout the year so far.”

Joining Hopkin on the 100m freestyle podium on Sunday was fellow Olympic gold-medallist Freya Anderson, who hadn’t raced previously in the week as she continues her recovery from glandular fever.

“I came here with no expectations but it wasn’t too bad,” said Anderson, who won bronze in 54.59. “It’s a pretty good time and I’m happy with it. I was going to use this meet as a checkpoint to see where I’m at, I’ve not returned to full training yet, so to get a mid-54 is alright.”

The opening night saw a Bath Performance Centre one-two in the men’s 400m freestyle, with Bird taking gold ahead of training partner Luke Turley with a superb swim. The Tokyo Olympian’s winning time of 3:45.64 was a personal best and just two-tenths of a second outside the Paris consideration time.

Sports Performance student Gammon, coached by Andrei Vorontsov in the University’s Swimming Club, retained his British 200m butterfly title in fine style the following night, finishing three seconds clear of the field in 1:56.94.

He then produced another stunning swim in Friday’s 100m butterfly to take the silver medal behind Max Litchfield in 51.82, edging out Bath Performance Centre’s Jacob Peters – who had set the Paris qualification time during the morning’s heats – by six-hundredths of a second. Ed Mildred was fourth.

Friday also saw Bath Performance Centre’s Hibbott lead from the front in an exciting 400m freestyle final before holding off a late charge from Amelie Blocksidge to take gold.

“I knew I had to play to my strengths, which was my speed, and I knew Amelie would be coming back at the end,” said Hibbott. “I gave it everything I can and was pleased to get the win.”

Tokyo Olympian Brodie Williams won 200m backstroke bronze in a final that also featured Bath Performance Centre team-mates Matthew Ward and University of Bath sporting scholars Jack Skerry and Cameron Brooker.

Ward, Williams, Skerry and Jonothan Adam had also placed fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh respectively in the 100m backstroke, Ward setting a new age-group record of 54.10.

Meanwhile, S5 athlete Hext swam well inside her required mark of 3:05.07 in the MC 100m freestyle, finishing fifth overall in the multi-classification points system, to do plenty for her bid to go to the Paris Paralympics.

Visit teambath.com/swimming to find out more about the swimming programme at the University of Bath, including the public swim-fit timetable.

Roll of honour (* denotes Paris 2024 nomination time)

GOLD

Kieran Bird: Open/men’s 400m freestyle 3:45.64.
Joshua Gammon: Open/men’s 200m butterfly 1:56.94.
Holly Hibbott: Women’s 400m freestyle 4:11.67.
Anna Hopkin (alumni): Women’s 50m freestyle 24.53*; women’s 100m freestyle 53.33*.
Ben Proud: Men’s 50m freestyle 21.25*.

SILVER

Luke Turley: Open/men’s 400m freestyle 3:48.93.
Joshua Gammon: Open/men’s 100m butterfly 51.82.
Tom Dean: Open/men’s 200m individual medley 1:56.44*.

BRONZE

Freya Anderson: Women’s 100m freestyle 54.59.
Tom Dean: Open/men’s 100m freestyle 47.94*; open/men’s 200m freestyle 1:45.09*.
Jacob Peters: Open/men’s 100m butterfly 51.88.
Brodie Williams: Open/men’s 200m backstroke 1:57.02.

Other finalists

Leah Crisp (800m freestyle 4th 8:43.76, 400m freestyle 6th 4:15.88), Ed Mildred (100m butterfly 4th 52.11), Matthew Ward (100m backstroke 4th 54.10, 200m IM 5th 2:00.16, 200m backstroke 7th 1:59.03), Suzanna Hext (MC 200m freestyle 5th 2:59.98*), Jacob Whittle (100m freestyle 5th 48.39), Brodie Williams (100m backstroke 5th 54.48), Kieran Bird (200m freestyle 6th 1:46.99), Holly Hibbott (200m freestyle 6th 1:59.82, 100m butterfly 8th 1:01.38), Jack Skerry (100m backstroke 6th 54.50, 200m backstroke 6th 1:58.60), Jonothan Adam (100m backstroke 7th 54.88), Jemima Hall (200m freestyle 7th 2:00.32, 400m freestyle 8th 4:17.78), Ekaterina Price (200m butterfly 7th 2:13.38), Luke Turley (200m freestyle 7th 1:47.75), Cameron Brooker (200m backstroke 8th 1:59.97).

With thanks to Team Bath

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