balfour the toast of budapest with gold

Kirsty Balfour was the toast of British Swimming in Budapest as she confirmed her favourite status and duly took the gold medal in the 200m breaststroke. The Edinburgh based swimmer had come into the meet ranked as number one and more than lived up to that billing, heading the field home by 2.73s to take the home team’s first title of the week. Britain had no other finalists in the session but successfully progressed six swimmers to tomorrow’s finals.
Balfour was understandably delighted with her evening’s work, having dominated the field from the start. “I tried to get the stroke rate right over the first 50m, build on it in the second, hammer the third and then hold on to the end,” she said afterwards.
“Although I was number one going into the race I never felt too much pressure. I was pretty nervous earlier today but I just thought I had to enjoy it and use my talent to swim fast and it worked.”
Fellow Scot Kerry Buchan set a new PB for fourth place, behind local favourite Agnes Kovacs and Ukrainian Yuliya Pidlisna who took bronze and silver respectively.
Balfour’s gold moves Britain onto 7 medals, just two shy of their best ever performance, with six other swimmers looking to add to that tally after making into their respective finals. Mel Marshall and Jo Jackson will take on the might of Annika Liebs and Laure Manaudou in the 200m free, coming through the semis in fourth and seventh, but both were outside their best times and will be looking to step up in the final. Commonwealth Champion Caitlin McClatchey fell foul of the two per nation rule and did not progress form the heats.
The remaining finalists came from the men’s team where both Darren Mew and James Gibson will contest the 50m breaststroke final, while Todd Cooper lines up in the 100m butterfly. James Goddard signalled a return to form with a swim of 1:58.61 to make the 200m backstroke final, but will be without Commonwealth Champion Gregor Tait who was disqualified in the heats for swimming past the 15m mark underwater.