All eyes on Sheffield as Scots look to keep Japan dream afloat

If they are not successful in the national championships, they will be deprived of the opportunity to compete in the main international events.

However, even for the best swimmers in the country, this meet is far from a formality.

This year’s British Championships start today at Ponds Forge in Sheffield and the pressure on the swimmers to perform over the next six days will be immense.

This meet represents the only qualifying opportunity for British swimmers to be considered for this year’s World Championships in July in Fukuoka, Japan.

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Swimmers will win selection by ensuring they are one of the top finishers in their event while also meeting or exceeding the British Swimming qualifying times.

These qualifying times, however, even for the best swimmers, will present a considerable challenge to achieve.

As has been the case consistently in recent seasons, British Swimming’s qualifying times are faster than the World Aquatics ‘A’ cuts and even, in some cases, the qualifying time for particular events is faster than the current British record.

There is the caveat that a maximum of eight additional selections can be made at the discretion of GB’s director of performance and head coach, but such fierce judgment inevitably makes for an exciting championship.

Scottish eyes will be mainly on Duncan Scott.

The 25-year-old swimmer from the University of Stirling has been in brilliant form in recent seasons, returning from the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 with four medals before collecting six more at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last summer.

However, the freestyle racing specialist has of late promised to broaden his horizons a bit and has begun to place considerable emphasis on the individual combination, so if Scott is anywhere near his best over the next week, you are likely to get numerous titles.

The 200m freestyle final, in which Scott will take on the man who won him the 2021 Olympic title, Tom Dean, is always exciting and likely to be the race of the week.

Scott’s fellow Olympic gold medalist, Kathleen Dawson, has had a more challenging time since the Olympics.

After winning the relay gold in Tokyo despite a persistent back problem, Dawson missed the entirety of last season, including the European Championships, World Championships and Commonwealth Games as a result of injury. prolonged.

However, he hopes that a long period of rehabilitation has brought the bulging disc that was causing him such excruciating pain under control.

READ MORE: Adam Peaty to miss Sheffield as he shares his fight with mental health

The Kirkcaldy back runner will need to be close to the form that saw her set British records in the 50 and 100m backstroke in 2021 if she is to regain her place in the GB team and, in particular, overcome one of the up-and-coming -. Upcoming British swimming talent at Medi Harris.

Rising star that is Katie Shanahan is aiming to be selected for her first international world championships in the long run, and following the teenager’s impressive 2022, in which she won European and Commonwealth silver medals in the backstroke and individual medley. , will aim for national success as he aims to prove that his move from Glasgow to Stirling University is paying off.

Olympian Lucy Hope has established herself as a regular on Team GB and the freestyle specialist will be looking to secure her place at the World Championships, but facing England’s Freya Anderson in the 100m and 200m freestyle, she will have to try really hard to grab the top step of the podium.

Kara Hanlon is also worth considering in the sprint breaststroke events, with the Isle of Lewis native looking to make her first World Championship team. As the fastest in the field in the 100-meter breaststroke, she has more of a chance to reserve her seat for Japan.

Keanna McInnes in the 100m butterfly, Archie Goodburn in the 50m breaststroke and Evie Davis in the 50m freestyle are also hoping to do enough to make Team GB.

Olympic champions Anna Hopkin, James Guy and Matt Richards will be in action, and Ben Proud, Luke Greenbank, James Wilby, Abbie Wood and Lewis Burras also have title chances and make the World Championship squad.

However, Adam Peaty, the triple Olympic champion, will be absent.

The breaststroke was withdrawn from competition last week for mental health reasons.

The 28-year-old said he was “tired” and “didn’t enjoy the sport like he had for the last decade.”

“Everybody wants to sit in your seat, until they have to sit in your seat,” he added. “Very few people understand what winning and success does to an individual’s mental health.

“While I continue to train, I have decided to withdraw from the British Swimming Championships.

“This is for the sole purpose of delivering the best possible performance in Paris at the 2024 Olympic Games.”


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