Rotterdam Round Up: Whittle and Evans on the Move

It was an early season long course shake out for a host of GB swimmers who competed at the Rotterdam Qualification Meet over the weekend. A big group from the Bath Performance Centre was added to by swimmers from Loughborough, Stirling and a number of other squads, and a number of eye catching performances resulted.

Chief amongst those was a victory over 100m freestyle in a lifetime best for Jacob Whittle, whose 48.03 cements his place at number 5 in the GB all time rankings and moves him ever closer to the 47 mark. This was his first proper showing since making the switch from Loughborough to Bath to swim under Dave McNulty, and the early signs are promising. The GB team skipped the final day of the meet to head to the European SC championships so in the same race, Lewis Burras took the opportunity to throw down a 50m time trial, posting 21.85 at the midway point, before being DQed in the official results. That’s his 7th fastest swim ever and not far from his PB of 21.68 – encouraging for the early season.

There was further encouragement in the form of Luke Greenbank who after a period of struggle, showed a break from the pool has recharged his batteries by winning the 200m backstroke in 1:56.89 – his fastest time of the year.

In the shorter backstroke events, Jonathan Adam was victorious over 50m and 100m, but it was his time in the latter that caught the eye; he posted 53.67 in the final after a 53.60 heat swim, not far from his lifetime best of 53.45 and a positive start to the Olympic season.

Amongst the ladies, it was Angharad Evans who was making the largest move as she swam to a trio of big lifetime bests. Starting with an almost 1s improvement over 50m for silver behind Imogen Clark, she went on to carve almost 7s off her 200m lifetime best in 2:26.84 and close to a second off her 100m best time in 1:07.27, to secure three silver medal finishes.

It’s the 100m that is perhaps most interesting as Olympic season moves towards selection crunch time, with that performance nudging Evans into the top 10 and just above Clark in the all time GB rankings. It leaves her second amongst active swimmers in an event that is pretty open when it comes to selection, and while the Olympic nomination time of 1:06.31 would require another big drop, as well as getting the better of Kara Hanlon, there is always the prospect of medley relay selection.

It’s not uncommon to see swimmers make a late run for Olympic selection and there’s a women’s breaststroke precedent in the shape of Chloe Tutton who made rapid strides through late 2015 and early 2016 on her way to 4th place in Rio. That may yet prove to be too large a step, but a move to Stirling certainly seems to have given Evans’ challenge some new momentum.

Elsewhere there was a brace of wins for Tom Dean in the 200 free and 200IM, while Kieran Bird took the 400 freestyle in 3:47.96, only the second time he’s broken 3:48 in that event.

Full Results are available here

Banner image: ISL/Mike Lewis

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