20 at 20: James Guy Takes 200 Free World Title

As the 2015 season rolled around, we knew James Guy was good. After all he was the standout GB male from the 2013 world championships and was Pullbuoy’s swimmer of the year for 2013.

A decent 2014 followed, with medals at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow before 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 so came the 200m freestyle.

Guy had qualified second fastest behind Ryan Lochte but Sun loomed large in large lane 2. What could the young man from Millfield achieve?

The race started as might have been expected, with Chad le Clos off like a rocket and Ryan Lochte’s incredible underwater work telling on the field. But despite that, Guy turned first at 100m. There was a nagging doubt he’d gone to early, with Sun known for his back end speed and Lochte again distancing himself underwater off the halfway wall. By 150m, Sun had moved to the head of the field while Lochte again put in a rapid 15m underwater phase to rise in the lead. It looked like the gold was theirs to fight for.

But Guy wasn’t done. He produced a finishing burst to which a fading Lochte and Sun had no answer, sweeping past the Chinese swimmer in the closing 10m to win by 0.06s in 1:45.14.

It was a remarkable result that set Guy up to lead the 4×200 team to gold – he produced the fastest split of the final with 1:44.7 to take his team from 3rd at the final takeover to the top of the tree at the finish. We also saw his debut in the medley relay as he took on the fly leg setting up a run to Olympic silver in that event the following year. It was a week to remember.