British Head Coach Furniss On Building Towards Tokyo Following Record European Success

KAthleen Dawson 1
Kathleen Dawson: Photo Courtesy: Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

British Swimming head coach Bill Furniss believes the success at the European Championships was indicative of a strong team culture and provided a platform for the coming weeks going in to Tokyo.

Britain claimed a record haul of 11 gold – the most by any country since the mixed relay was introduced – nine silver and six bronze medals to finish top of the medal table in Budapest.

Among many stand-out performances, Kathleen Dawson won the 100 back gold twice in one night following a re-swim of the initial race when a Swedish protest over the starter system was upheld.

The University of Stirling swimmer then went on to set a new European record of 58.08 leading off the women’s medley relay that won gold in the penultimate event at the Duna Arena.

Adam Peaty claimed gold in the 50 and 100 breaststroke as well as both the men’s and mixed medley relays to claim the quadruple quadruple with four golds at each of the last four Europeans at which he’s competed.

Freya Anderson won five relay golds – anchoring each of them – plus 200 free bronze and Molly Renshaw claimed the 200 breaststroke title.

There were individual silvers for Aimee Willmott (400IM), Duncan Scott (200 free), Ben Proud (50 free), Abbie Wood (200IM), Cassie Wild (200 back) and Luke Greenbank (200 back), as well as bronzes for Tom Dean (200 free), James Guy (100 fly), Anna Hopkin (100m Freestyle), Freya Anderson (200 free), James Wilby (100 breaststroke) and Max Litchfield (400IM).

They enjoyed fine success in the relays

From the nine relays – the 4x100m freestyle, 4x200m freestyle and 4x100m medley relays in the men’s, women’s and mixed categories – Britain claimed seven titles and matched or bettered four Championship records.

They went on to take silver in the men’s 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays.

Furniss noted the responsibility of the individual to the team and sustaining the high level of performance from the GB trials last month which meant they weren’t fully rested.

He said:

“The Europeans will give our athletes a lot of confidence and belief in their preparation. It was really pleasing to see the depth as well, particularly how much the women have improved.

“The performances in the relays show how the depth of the team has moved on, but also it shows the collective responsibility of the team. They want to race for each other. It’s a very close-knit team, and I thought the relays were a tremendous example of the culture and the way they are focused and want to swim well as a collective.

“Budapest was four weeks after our trials, so the challenge for the team was to maintain a high level of performance. Obviously swimmers were at different phases of preparation: some had decided to bounce on, some were back in full training, some were in between those places – but they weren’t fully prepared for that competition, so we were delighted with how they rose to the challenge and were able to produce such a high calibre of swims.”

Furniss emphasised that Budapest is a stepping stone to Tokyo with the opening ceremony moving ever closer on 23 July and looked ahead to the British Swimming Glasgow Meet which will feature morning finals, mirroring the Games schedule.

He said:

“We have definitely moved forward from last year – there’s a big note of caution that this is a platform for us to move forward, but we’re all very clear that it’s no more than that.

“The real challenge now is to move these performances on again at the Tokyo Olympics. It’s very much a reset, a refocus now, we use this platform to build from.

“In itself, it was really successful, our best European Championships ever – but that’s gone now, that’s history, and it’s great to have the history but the real challenge now is in eight weeks’ time.

“In our Tokyo preparation, we now bounce on again to the British Swimming Glasgow Meet in a week and a half, where we are doing morning finals.

“The whole race strategy is based on giving them these high-standard challenges – so they’ve had a really high standard international meet following trials, and now we bounce on to preparing to race fast in the evening and fast again in the morning.”

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