The starting gun on the race to Rio was well and truly fired last week for Britain’s swimmers as their first weekend of racing in 2016 kicked off around the world. As he explained in the pullbuoy podcast, Bill Furniss has mandated that his swimmers need to race at particular times, which saw teams in action at their usual January haunt in Flanders but also further afield in Australia. Their next racing weekend comes up in March, but there was much to be positive about from this hit out.
Over in Flanders, Aimee Willmott was the spearhead amongst a tidy showing from the British team as she recorded 4:34.82 to win the 400IM. That was good enough for second on the early world rankings, and would have been good enough for 5th in last year’s standings. James Guy continued his good form from the world cup circuit, recording 1:46.91 in the 200m freestyle, 0.03 better than he managed at the same meet in 2015. he also won the 400m freestyle just minutes later in 3:49.20.
Rachael Kelly was swift at the head of the 100m butterfly, recording 57.74, just 0.03s off the personal best she established at trials lat year, while Stockport’s Katie Matts won the 100m breaststroke in a solid 1:08.88.
Meanwhile down under British teams were in action in two place. At the Victorian open championships in Melbourne, teams from Scotland and Wales were in action. Pick of the bunch was City of Cardiff’s Chloe Tutton who improved her lifetime best over 200m breaststroke by 0.94s with a swim of 2:25.82. that moves her up to 4th all time on the GB rankings. Her compatriot Daniel Jervis took a good win in the 1500m freestyle, besting Ryan Cochrane and Mack Horton to touch first in 15:10.87, while Scotland’s Stephen Milne also held off those Cochrane as well as David McKeon to win the 400 freestyle in 3:48.99. Milne also posted 1:48.85 in the 200 and may yet come into the reckoning for the 4×200 freestyle squad later in the year.
Further north, a group of British swimmers from Loughborough, Bath and Derby were in action at the Miami Super Challenge on the gold coast in Queensland, with each taking on big racing programmes. Pick of the bunch was Siobhan Marie O’Connor who posted a 0.33s lifetime beast in the 100m breaststroke with a 1:07.79 win. That moves her up to 5th all time on the GB rankings and equal fastest of those currently swimming. Good news indeed for her medley hopes this year. O’Connor led home Sarah Vasey and Molly Renshaw, both on 1:09s. In the equivalent men’s race Adam Peaty posted a leisurely, for him, 1:00.05 to win and also recorded a 28.19 50m time racing in the 50 freestyle event.