Hibbott shines in Flanders test

A group of British swimmers mainly drawn from Stockport Metro and Loughborough University got some early season long course racing in the back at the Flanders Swim Cup over the weekend. This meet has been a staple for the national team for the past few years but not this time, so it was left to the clubs to fly the Union Jack in Belgium.

It was Stockport’s Holly Hibbott who flew it most vigorously, taking two wins and a runners-up placing over the weekend. The pick of those swims was probably the gold medal secured in the 200m butterfly in 2:12.13, which pushed local swimmer Valentine Dumont into second and Olympic champion Mireia Belmonte into third place.Indeed Hibbott had the measure of the Spaniard all weekend, beating her also in the 400 freestyle, where she took gold in 4:12.03, and again in the 800 free, where her time of 8:36.03 was good enough for second behind Katinka Hosszu.

There were also a British medals in the shorter butterfly events, where a fine battle played out between Loughborough teammates Rachel Kelly and Marie Wattel. Kelly got the edge in the 100m event in 59.06, but the Frenchwomen had struck first blood in the 50m 26.53 to 26.97. Wattel also surfaced in the 50m freestyle where she took silver 0.01s behind Stockport’s Emma Gage who secured the win in 25.75.

Meanwhile in the men’s butterfly, Adam Barrett showed signs that his fine short course form was continuing into the big pool with a win over 100m in 52.92, the only man under 53s. He added silver in the 50m fly in 23.95 and a swim of 50.46 in the 100 free for sixth place.

Elsewhere there were some encouraging breaststroke swims, not least from Jocelyn Ulyett who won silver in the 100m behind Ruta Meilutyte in 1:08.84. Katie Matts moved on from her performances in Austin with 1:09.86 in 5th. The tables were turned over 200m though with Matts second in 2:27.67, another season’s best, with Ulyett third in 2:29.14.

Full results are available here.