By Neil Leverett
- Defending World and Olympic Breaststroke champion Adam Peaty leads Team GB in Hungary
- British Swimming looking to carry over from most successful Olympic meet ever last summer in Rio.
- FINA World Championships get under way on Sunday
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – Will British Swimming’s wave of success continue in Hungary?
Just under 12 months on from the golden waves of success in Rio de Janeiro from last summer’s Olympics Games, British Swimming will look to grow on the success of last year, as the FINA World Championships begin in Budapest, Hungary this weekend.
Not only will the goal be to continue the huge momentum from South America, but to improve from Team GB’s haul from Kazan in 2015. With a squad of 27 swimming travelling, hopes are high. Two years ago however, a total of nine medals were won including five golds, three of which were claimed by Britain’s golden boy Olympic champion Adam Peaty.
Winning an unprecedented Brit triple of 50m and 100m breaststroke, as well as the anchor leg in the 4x100m mixed-medley relay – beating the United States quarter by over a second and a half – the Mel Marshall-trained Uttoxeter man has become the toast of the pool across the globe.
However, speaking to BritishSwimming.Org, UK Swimming Head Coach Bill Furniss urged caution at being too complacent with British success, saying:
“The last World Championships are history now. We performed very well but it’s in the past. We’re now at the start of a new four-year cycle and everything is geared towards achieving our best result in 2020 at the Tokyo Games.
“This is a very new team that we have been working with. A third of the British team in Budapest are rookies and while we still have a group growing in experience there are a large number of new performers. It’s an exciting prospect; the start of a new cycle with a new team.”
Coming into Budapest, 22 year-old Peaty is the red-hot favourite for similar success, as the Briton aims for ‘Project 56’ as the first man to swim sub-57 seconds. Peaty could be accompanied on the podium by Ross Murdoch, who won bronze in Russia two year ago in the 100m breaststroke.
The sprint events represent strong hopes in Budapest. With Olympic champion Anthony Ervin failing to qualify from the US trials and reigning World Champion Florent Manaudou commentating for French television, Ben Proud is a leading candidate for Gold.
The World number one broke the 50m free record in April in a time of 21.32. With American Nathan Adrian eyeing the 100m free as a priority, his compatriot Caeleb Dressel and Russian Vladimir Morozov are his closest rivals for Hungarian glory.
In the 100m event also, Stirling swimmer Duncan Scott took home two silver medals from Rio in the relays, however after narrowly missing individual bronze, is a man to fear. In the men’s 200m free, James Guy defends his own world crown and having had a strong year thus far, can hold out the belief of beating Sun Yang, Mack Horton, Chad Le Clos et al to another title.
Silver medallist in Brazil last summer Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, is another strong medal hope and has home favourite Katinka Hosszu firmly in her sights, having finished just 0.3 of a second behind last August.
The Hungarian won the double of women’s 200m and 400m Individual medley last summer and spurred on by the home crowd, ‘The Iron Lady’ will need to watch ‘The Bath Bullet’ like an aquatic hawk.
In the 200 and 400m events, the absences of Jazz Carlin and Aimee Wilmott are significant losses, but could yet be offset with younger blood.
European junior Champion Freya Anderson at just 16 years of age will compete in the women’s 100m freestyle and is already a strong hope for the future. More presently, Molly Renshaw came sixth in the 200 breaststroke in Rio last summer and has also won Commonwealth bronze.
Furniss’ words regarding the Olympic cycle may indeed be true, but that is not to say that these World Championship in Budapest cannot be their best ever. Far from it.
The FINA World Championships takes place between 23-30 July in Budapest, Hungary
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