GLASGOW, Scotland, April 13. SIOBHAN Marie-O’Connor is making a name for herself at the British long course nationals, and she put on a show today in the 200 IM final to highlight tonight’s competition.
O’Connor, previously known as a top British breaststroker, is branching off into different events, and it showed in the 200 IM. Out under the world record pace of 27.72 after butterfly with a 27.29 and still on pace after backstroke with a 32.49 split, O’Connor got the crowd piqued for a possible British record, turning three seconds ahead of Hannah Miley’s split. O’Connor showed off her breaststroke prowess with a 38.06 to stay on pace. With a 31.87 freestyle leg, O’Connor fell just five tenths off Hannah Miley’s British record of 2:09.24 with a 2:09.71. O’Connor broke Sophie Allen’s English record of 2:10.23. She not only got another event on her Commonwealth Games schedule but sits second in the world with her and Australia’s Alicia Coutts (2:08.89) as the only sub-2:10 swimmers in the world so far in 2014.
Placing second in the 200 IM was Aimee Willmott with a 2:10.60, while Allen settled for third with a 2:11.54. Willmott just missed automatic selection for the English squad. Miley already earned her spot on the Scottish team, so her 2:11.99 for fourth was not much of a concern.
Adam Brown, based in the United States at Auburn University, needed a personal best to win the men’s 100 free, and he chipped off a couple tenths with a 49.35. It was a full second slower than the time needed to get automatic selection to swim the individual 100 free but will likely be a strong leader for England’s 400 free relay prospects. Auburn nearly went 1-2 in the event, but Ben Proud got second instead with a 49.54 while Brown’s training partner James Disney-May was third with a 49.71.
Before she would step up for the 50 butterfly final, Fran Halsall had to get through the semifinals of the 100 free, and she grabbed the top seed with a 54.29. It’s two tenths slower than she’s swum this season, but is good enough to get her lane four for the final. About a half hour later, Halsall was the class of the field again, taking the 50 fly final with a 25.83, just a couple of tenths off her British record from last summer. But, it’s allowed Halsall to prepare for a defense of her Commonwealth title from 2010.
A spectacular final 50 meters helped Lauren Quigley pass pre-race favorite Lizzie Simmonds for the win in the 200 backstroke final. Quigley’s time of 2:09.79 ranks ninth in the global standings, and Simmonds’ runner-up time of 2:10.72 fell two seconds short of her best time of the season, a 2:08.91 from February. Jessica Fullalove was third with a 2:12.66.
Chris Walker-Hebborn scored a second British national title in the backstroke, posting a 25.09 to beat out world record Liam Tancock’s 25.38. Tancock has been slow in returning to the pool after shoulder surgery, and will likely not get the chance to defend his 2010 Commonwealth titles. Joe Patching, another Auburn product who just wrapped up his freshman year, placed third with a 25.77.
Ross Murdoch will be chasing his Scottish record of 27.28 in the 50 breaststroke in tomorrow’s final after posting a 27.57 in tonight’s semifinal. Adam Peaty, who continues to show promise in all three breaststroke distances, qualified second with a 27.73, while Mark Tully (27.92) and Andrew Weatheritt (27.94) also broke 28 seconds today.
Thomas Laxton will go into tomorrow’s men’s 100 fly as the top qualifier with a 52.95, a full second slower than qualifying for the English Commonwealth team. Adam Barrett was second overall with a 53.08, while Joe Roebuck was third with a 53.29.
Sophie Taylor set herself up for a sweep of the breaststroke events, posting a 1:08.17 to qualify first. Corrie Scott was second in 1:08.89 while Molly Renshaw placed third with a 1:09.22.
In the first of five junior-level finals, Rosie Rudin won the women’s 200 backstroke with a 2:14.96 by a full second. Duncan Scott continued his impressive meet with a gold in the 100 free with a 50.67. Abbie Wood took the title in the women’s 200 IM with a 2:18.10, while Kummi Ogunfeibo won a three-person final of the 50 backstroke with a 26.37. Georgina Pryor took the women’s 50 fly with a 27.84 to close out the session.
Results For: British long course nationals, day 4