Friday, May 21, 2021

Kathleen Dawson crowned European Champion

In a dramatic twist, which saw the final of the 100m backstroke swum twice, Kathleen Dawson was finally crowned European on day five of the swimming event at the LEN European Aquatics Championships in Budapest.

Fastest into the final, the University of Stirling athlete dominated from start to finish and powered her way to the gold medal in a Championship Record time of 58.19, just 0.07 off the European Record, held by GBR’s Gemma Spofforth, which was set in Rome in 2009. Kira Toussaint (NED), who won gold in the 50m back earlier in the week, had to settle for silver this time round in 59.02, while Maria Kameneva (RUS) won bronze in 59.13. Cassie Wild (University of Stirling) was on her PB again for the event, finishing 5th in 59.82.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of the story.

LEN announced that due to a partial malfunction of the starting system, which affected lane 8, the backstroke final would be re-swum with all results and times from the initial final being declared null and void. So about 2 hours 20 minutes after the first final was swum, all eight competitors lined up again, with everything still to play for.

Dawson looked focussed and did not disappoint. Having ‘won’ the event once already, Dawson was not going to give up her crown without a fight. She again powered down the first 50, turning first and stayed strong to the end, touching home in 58.49 for the gold. While Kameneva maintained her bronze medal, it was Margherita Panziera (ITA) who secured silver. Cassie Wild finished in 5th, but improved her time to 59.68 for the final.

Dawson said of the evening events,

“I was ecstatic when I first won in 58.1. I was partly through my swim down when I was told we’d have to re-swim it and I was disappointed in the moment, just dropped my hands and went down to my knees, but then Steve (Steve Tigg) was there straight away, saying ‘you did this last night, you can do it again’ and sure enough I was able to go in, go through the same process from the previous night and produce the swim I did. I have been so consistent throughout this meet and I’m really impressed with myself.

“I am pleased that Louise Hansson (SWE) was allowed the race she wanted, but I do feel that tonight showed I deserved it. I 100% believed I would win again.”

Cassie Wild also commented, and said,

“I didn’t quite believe the news at first, I thought it was a wind up! I spoke to the coach and it became more about mindset and the mental game than the physical side of the race. I was happy to have gone quicker, would have liked to have sneaked onto the podium, but overall I’m pleased.”

Edinburgh University’s Lucy Hope also added to her gold medal tally, adding another having led off the women’s 4x200m freestyle quartet in a title winning performance.

The quartet of Lucy Hope, Tamryn Van Selm, Holly Hibbott and Freya Anderson stormed to victory in a time of 7:53.15. Hungary won silver in 7:56.26 with Italy picking up bronze in 7:56.72.

Lucy said of her performance (split of 1:58.45),

“I didn’t really know I was going to go there, as my 200 has been off this week. I just wanted to go as fast as I could to put the girls in the best possible position. It was a decent swim and it is great to come away with gold.”

University of Stirling's Emma Russell will also receive a gold medal for the 4x200m freesstlye as she raced in the heats.

Duncan Scott also made a return to the podium, winning silver in a highly competitive 200m freestyle final. Scott finished in 1:45.19, with GBR team-mate Tom Dean taking bronze in 1:45.34. Martin Malyutin (RUS) won gold in a time of 1:44.79.

Afterwards Scott commented,

“It has been a tough couple of days and I’m really happy with that. Doing back-to-back international 200s is another learning experience for me. It was good last night and the night before, but it was nice to have the morning off and come back a bit fresher. I am pleased to go a 1:45.1. I gave it a good effort to 150 then I just tried to hang on, but some of the boys were coming back fast and swimming really well.

“Ever since I started racing the 200 free internationally it has always been competitive, and I’d say even more so now. I love being in an international final with a teammate (Tom Dean) and someone who I can say is a really good friend as well.”

Earlier in the day, Katie Shanahan (City of Glasgow Swim Team) finished in the top 16 of the 200m IM heats, but didn’t progress due to the 2 per nation rule. University of Stirling’s Aimee Willmott finished 10th overall after the semi-finals.

Full results can be found HERE.