There was no doubt over who was the star of the show at the British Universities’ championship in Sheffield over the weekend as Plymouth’s Ben Proud, swimming here for the University of St Mark and St John, set a new British Record over 50m freestyle, with a time of 21.73. That sliced 0.03 seconds off the time in which he won Commonwealth gold in 2014 and lifted him to joint second in the early year world rankings.
That record breaking effort came off a block of hard work on camp in Florida, but he also added a win over 100 free, in 49.10, his second sojourn to that speed this year. The longer event would be expected to be relatively more affected by the circumstances, and he will undoubtedly be quicker at trials, but the raw speed Proud showed bodes well for the summer.
Proud’s Plymouth Leander teammate Antony James showed that he is in no mood to give up his number 1 ranking from last year in the 100 fly, as he posted a BUCS record of 52.77 to win the event. That was 0.5s or so down on his 2015 best, but is a solid swim for this time of year and is good news for Britain’s medley relay – a bit more competition on the fly leg will be a great benefit in the hunt for an Olympic medal.
Someone who is perhaps not quite there when it comes to Olympic medals, but might now fancy getting a shot at selection in the 1500m is Tim Shuttleworth. The Hatfield and Loughborough man raced to a victory over 30 laps in 15:19.57, carving over 20s from his PB and moving him into the GB top 20 all time. Now there’s still a long way to go to get to the Games, and Rio in all probability will be too soon for him, but this time last year his PB was 16:05 so he is certainly a coming man. Not that long ago we were marvelling over the rapid improvements of Messrs Milne, Jervis and Lelliot so that trajectory has precedent. For good measure Shuttleworth also added victory in the 200 freestyle in 1:51.07.
On the women’s side Aimee Willmott took the top lady prize with another strong 400IM – 3:36.21 for her, which adds to a consistent set of swims in that event this year. She also took wins in the 800 free and 200 back, where she recorded a PB of 2:12.20.
Elsewhere Camilla Hattersley dipped under 2:01 for the first time in the 200 free, holding off 2012 Olympian Becky Turner to win in 2:00.86. A further step forward and she could be on the cusp of a 4 x 200 free relay spot; last year the cut off fell around the 2:00 mid mark.
The meet also included multi-disability events, the pick of which was an S14 world record over 800 free style from Jessica-Jane Applegate who recorded 9:20.10 for the new mark.
Full results are available here.