20 at 20



As part of pullbuoy's 20th anniversary celebrations, we've collated our list of the top 20 moments in British swimming over the last two decades. They may not always be the obvious ones, but they stand out for a reason. That might be personal or it might reflect the significance of an achievement, but they all have meant something. There is a mixture of video, podcast and written recollection and the 20 are presented in no particular order. We hope you enjoy a trip down memory lane.



20 at 20: Katy Sexton Takes 200m Backstroke World Title

Barcelona in 2003 saw a highpoint for British swimming as the team claimed a then record 8 world championship medals. At the vanguard of that charge was Katy Sexton, who claimed silver in the 100m backstroke before becoming the first British woman to win a world title in the 200m event.

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20 at 20: Dramatic Relay World Title For GB in Fukuoka

The women’s 4×200 freestyle relay at the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka was the first swimming world title ever won by Britain’s ladies. In a refresh of a video produced for Pullbuoy’s 15th anniversary in 2015, this is the story of one of the most controversial world championship races ever, as told through the eyes of anchor leg swimmer Karen Pickering and then British National Performance Director Bill Sweetenham.

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20 at 20: Stunning Beijing Double for Rebecca Adlington

Rebecca Adlington went to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 somewhat under the radar. outside of swimming few had heard of her, despite her having a great medal chance at those games. A week later all that changed as she came home a double Olympic Champion.

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20 at 20: Adam Peaty Cracks 58 Seconds

It’s the race also known as the world record we all watched on Nick Hope’s phone. There was no TV coverage or streaming available for the 2015 World Championship Trials held at the London Aquatic Centre so unless you were there on that momentous Friday night there was no way to watch as Adam Peaty sent shockwaves through breaststroke swimming other than the feed coming from the BBC correspondent’s Periscope channel. Adam descibes that race in his own words.

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20 at 20: Jazz Carlin Mines Double Silver in Rio

After disappointment in 2012 when illness curtailed her Olympic dreams, Jazz Carlin went to Rio with high hopes. She went on, of course, to claim two silver medals in the 400 and 800m freestyle, behind the other-worldy Katie Ledecky. In this podcast she recalls her preparation, dealing with the dominance of Ledecky and the battles she had to be the “best of the rest”.

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20 at 20: Adam Peaty Realises Project 56

Adam Peaty left the pool in Rio having claimed Olympic gold but was immediately looking forward, telling the waiting media “we’re not giving in now, we’re going to push it forward”. It took 3 years, but Project 56 became a reality with one of the most astonishing swims ever.

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20 at 20: Duncan Scott Throws Down Anchor Leg for the Ages

Britain’s men have had a remarkable run of success in the medley relay since they became Peaty-powered back in 2014. A swim of the very highest calibre from Duncan Scott continued that run in Gwangju.

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20 at 20: James Guy Takes 200 Free World Title

James Guy had a great start to the World Championships in Kazan with silver in the 400m freestyle on the opening day, behind Olympic Champion Sun Yang. And then came the 200m freestyle. What could the young man from Millfield achieve?

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20 at 20: Olympic Silver for Michael Jamieson

It was a home games with all the focus that comes with being the host falling on Britain’s swimmers in London. For many that proved to be too much, but for Michael Jamieson, it was very much a case of cometh the hour, cometh the man.

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20 at 20: Adam Peaty Claims Olympic Gold

When Britain had last won the 100m breastroke gold medal at the Olympics it was as tight as it could possibly have been, Adrian Moorhouse touching out his rivals by just one one-hundredth of a second. Come 2016 and the comparison could not have been more stark as Adam Peaty demolished his rivals.

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20 at 20: Steve Parry, 200 Butterfly, Athens 2004

Look back to a particular balmy night in Athens, and you see Steve Parry lining up in lane 4, the fastest qualifier in the Olympic final of the 200m butterfly. A little over 24 hours earlier he was almost at rock bottom, the 16th qualifier from heats and yet here he was shooting for gold. 16 years on from that final how have his recollections changed, and did he really think he could have beaten Michael Phelps?

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20 at 20: Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Men’s 4 x 200 Relay – Ross Davenport

For the next in the series of “20 at 20” favourite moments from the last 20 years, we journey back to 2006 and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. Specifically to the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay which produced an epic battle and a result that was unclear until the final few metres.

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20 at 20: 2017 World Championships Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay

We already knew the quality of Britain’s 4×200 freestyle men by the time the 2017 World Championships rolled around. After all they had won the world title in 2015 and Olympic Silver in 2016. Hopes were high, therefore, that they could retain that gold medal in Budapest.

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20 at 20:Women’s Medley Relay – 2006 European Championships

By the time of the 2006 European Championships it was 7 years since Britain had sent a proper team. In Budapest, a stirring performance from the women’s medley relay team heralded the start of a period of sustained success in that event.

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20 at 20: Alys Thomas, 2018 Commonwealth Games

When Alys Thomas mounted her blocks for the final of the 200m butterfly at the 2018 Commonwealth Games as the fastest qualifier, she probably thought she had a great chance of a medal. She may even have thought she could win. What was clear from her reaction at the end of the race was that she clearly didn’t think it would be that good…

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20 at 20: Duel in the Pool 2013 – Sudden Death

Back in 2013, when the ISL was so far fetched as to seem like the wildest of fantasies, we simply didn’t get to see the world’s greatest swimmers going at it head to head in team competition. A dramatic conclusion to the 2013 Duel in the Pool alerted us all to the posssibilities in this format.

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20 at 20: Swim4Leukaemia, 2014

Sometimes an event comes along that just entirely captivates. In the case of the Swim4Leukaemia charity relay back in 2014, there was an added personal dimension and the sense of a higher purpose that also added additional meaning. So while it delivered on a purely swimming level with a world record for a 100x100m relay, it also delivered emotionally.

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20 at 20: Gemma Spofforth 100m backstroke World Record Rome 2009

Britain doesn’t get many world swimming champions and has still fewer women who have climbed onto the top step of the podium. So when, at the 2009 World Championships, Gemma Spofforth achieved not only that but broke the world record as well, it was a momentous achievement.

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20 at 20: Athens 2004 Men’s 1500m Freestyle – David Davies

In this, the first of a set of podcasts looking back at some of the 20 moments picked to mark the 20th anniversary of Pullbuoy, David shares his recollections of a thrilling night in Athens, the greatest 1500m race in history.

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