Monday, May 17, 2021

Scottish Record by Hope leads to golden result

The European Championships couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start for Great Britain’s swimmers, as they won three medals on the opening night, breaking two British records in the process.

It was a truly golden moment in the history of Women’s 4x100m Freestyle swimming in the UK, as a new-look quartet of Lucy Hope, Anna Hopkin, Abbie Wood and Freya Anderson were the first British team to ever land the European crown, breaking the national record in the process.

Having qualified third quickest, where youngsters Emma Russell (University of Stirling) and Evelyn Davis (Bromley SC), who turns 17 on Tuesday, produced strong swims on their senior international debuts, Hopkin and Wood came into the final line-up to great effect. As she did this morning, Hope (Edinburgh University) swam a great lead-off leg, breaking the 100m freestyle Scottish Record (53.89), putting the team right in thick of the action, with Hopkin maintaining that position.

Medley and breaststroke swimmer Wood, coached by Dave Hemmings, proved an inspired choice for the final line-up, and she swam the 100m of her life to put Anderson in the lead with two lengths remaining. Anderson has been a phenomenal anchor leg swimmer for Great Britain over the last few years and she did it again tonight, a stunning 52.79 split holding off the Dutch to strike gold and set a new British record of 3:34.17, lopping a second and a half off the old time.

Gold medal round her neck, Hope said:

“My goal was to get us in the best place I possibly could for these three other girls. Overall I’m really happy with the time. It was quite unexpected but we’re all really happy.”

Five minutes later, the British record count for the night was doubled, as the men, inspired what they had just seen, secured silver.

Tom Dean came in on leg one, the first of a National Centre Bath trio, with anchor extraordinaire Duncan Scott (University of Stirling) also coming in to complete a team that had qualified comfortably thanks to the swims of Jacob Whittle and Joe Litchfield this morning.

Dean did what he needed to do, handing over to Matt Richards who kept the squad there or thereabouts as proceedings reached halfway. Next up was the stalwart of this team, James Guy, who improved further on an impressive morning swim to put the Brits third, with Scott to come.

The Stirling man did what he does best, chasing hard down that final 100m leg, overhauling the Italians to secure silver and a new British record of 3:14.29, also ending a 59-year medal drought in this event.

Scott said:

“It’s not too bad when the boys put you in a good spot like they did there! We had a good swim all round to get a British record. To go faster than we did in 2019 was the aim and we managed to do that, and to get a medal is great. It’s the first time we’ve come together and done a 4x100 and that gives us confidence going forward.”

Prior to all the relay success, University of Stirling athlete, Aimee Willmott,  kick-started Britain’s medal flurry on the first night of swimming finals in Budapest with a splendid silver in the Women’s 400m Individual Medley.

Drawn in lane three, inside Olympic champion and eventual winner Katinka Hosszu, Willmott showed guts and determination to bring home her first European medal since 2014. Showing her class on the backstroke and breaststroke legs, Willmott chased home-favourite Hosszu hard, battling down the final freestyle length to touch second, tied with Viktoria Mihalyvari, also of Hungary.

It was a well-deserved medal for the Steve Tigg coached swimmer, who said afterwards:

“I’m happy with that! Obviously it’s nice to get on the podium and it was good to actually get in and swim a race, as at British trials a couple of weeks ago it was just me and the clock - I’d have liked to swim a little bit quicker than that, but I guess this is just a stepping stone and a platform to the summer. To take away silver, I’m pretty chuffed.”

Earlier in the day, Katie Shanahan of City of Glasgow Swim Team, made her senior international debut in the 400m IM, where she finished in 4:47.28. Emma Russell and Evie Davis raced in the 50m freestyle finishing in 25.85 and 25.72 respectively. Keanna MacInnes (University of Stirling) was also in action in the heats of the 100m butterfly, where her finished in 59.64. Her Stirling team-mate Ross Murdoch, finished within the top 16, but did not go through to the semi-finals due to the 2 per nation rule.

Full results can be found HERE.