British National Performance Director Chris Spice has emphasised the importance of relays to his team’s overall success at the world championships in Kazan as the details of entries were confirmed.
“We want to be known as a relay nation,” explained Chris Spice. “We’ve got an opportunity now to build on the successes we achieved last year at both Commonwealth Games and European Championship level”
Britain will field six teams, the notable absence being the women’s 4×100 freestyle team who have been scratched from the day 1 heats. British Swimming confirmed that’s a decision made to protect swimmers for events later in the week. In all likelihood that means Siobhan Marie O’Connor who will be in the midst of her 200IM campaign as the relay unfolds and for whom there is no immediate replacement who could cover the heats.
A second team member, Francesca Halsall, is likely to be on duty in the mixed medley relay as well as taking on the 50m butterfly and freestyle. That leaves Rebecca Turner, who will now only swim the 4x200m and Lauren Quigley who was originally selected only for this relay, but who instead gets swims in the 50m and 100m backstroke and 50m freestyle.
The women’s 4×200 and 4×100 medley teams would both expect to make finals and secure Olympic qualification, albeit the podiums may be a long shot. The sprint relay will have another chance for a Rio berth at European Championships next year.
The mixed medley team enters this completion as world record holders, although it would be a surprise to see that mark survive this meet. Nonetheless they should expect to challenge for the medals with Chris Walker-Hebborn and Adam Peaty likely to send them on their way over the opening half.
Those two will also be hoping to repeat their medal winning antics of 2014 in the equivalent men’s race, which saw European and Commonwealth titles secured. Much as it was last year the butterfly leg will be critical and if Adam Barrett or Tom Laxton can produce a 51 low or better the team will have a great chance.
The men’s 4×200 also has a strong medal chance. Last year Scotland’s quartet were ranked 5th in the world but can now call on Calum Jarvis and James Guy to bolster their ranks so can be expected to be in the podium hunt. The bolter here is Duncan Scott, nominally picked for the 4×100 free, but who was so impressive at the European Games. It won’t be a surprise to see him taking a spot in the quartet.
The final quartet is the men’s 4x100m free. A final place and Rio qualification can be seen as a good result here.
“These next eight days, against the backdrop of the inspirational Kazan Arena, will show us how far we have come as we push to take them to the next level” concludes Spice. ” It’s going to be very exciting as we have relays that will be pushing for good results.”