Greenbank Goes Third In 200 Back Rankings In 1:57.51 As McCullagh International Draws To A Close

Luke Greenbank at the Youth Olympic Games
Luke Greenbank: Photo Courtesy: Xinhua/Fei Maohua

The McCullagh International concluded on Sunday morning with a host of fine performances from Luke Greenbank, Adam Peaty and Abbie Wood among others while Irish swimmer Mona McSharry left the Bangor Aurora Aquatic and Leisure Complex with six medals.

Dan Jervis went sub-3:50 in the 400 free to clinch the distance freestyle treble, a feat replicated by Amelia Kane among the women, while Duncan Scott completed a golden double in the 200IM and 100 fly to finish with four titles overall.

It brought to an end the four-day meet in Bangor, Northern Ireland, which attracted a strong line-up thanks to it mirroring the Tokyo schedule of morning finals and evening heats.

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Luke Greenbank: Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Greenbank, who won 200m backstroke bronze at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, returned to the pool the morning after leading the way into the final in 1:58.43.

The National Centre Loughborough swimmer went out in 27.57 followed by splits of 29.54; 30.32; 30.38 to come home in 1:57.51 and go third in the fledgling world rankings.

It meant Greenbank, who trains under Mel Marshall, finished the meet with gold in the 100 and 200 plus bronze in the 50 back.

He told Swimming World:

“I’m really pleased. The plan was to go out a little bit harder so I went 1:58.4 last night and the week before (at BUCS Nationals)  and I finished those races well and felt like I had a lot more to give.

“So Mel was like ‘make sure you take it out fast and then at the back end, the work we’ve been doing will keep you going until the end’. So really pleased with that.

“It has been really good experience to swim finals in the morning.

“It’s another stepping stone really but a stepping stone with a bit more purpose  with it being this way round.”

Greenbank’s time has been bettered in 2020 only by Ryosuke Irie’s astonishing 1:55.35 at the Kitajima Cup in January and the 1:57.40 by Keita Sunama.

The 22-year-old is well aware of what his fellow backstrokers are doing in pools around the world but it is his own form and lane that commands his attention, day-in, day-out.

“I saw Irie’s swim and that is amazing. And I go oh at the back of my mind but it’s not Olympics yet, it’s not the big one. I tend to focus on what I have done more than what other people are doing: obviously I’m aware of what other people are doing but for me it’s good to have that marker of where I am compared to myself rather than other people.”

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Luke Greenbank and Adam Peaty cheer Duncan Scott home to medley relay gold at the World Championships in Gwangju – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Bronze in Gwangju represented a huge moment for the former Cockermouth swimmer for whom the transition from junior to senior was at times a rocky road.

He also led off the British men’s 4×1 medley relay squad that so memorably mowed down the United States on the final leg to win gold in South Korea.

Greenbank said:

“It has been a huge confidence boost. I always say that swimming well in season and then backing these swims up is a really good confidence boost and for me it helps me move on to the next swim, knowing that I’ve got that in the bank if that makes sense.”

Peaty On Top Of The World On Return To Racing

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Adam Peaty: Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The meet has been a return to competition the 25-year-old had sought as he recorded times beyond the realistic aspirations of the vast majority of swimmers through history.

A 100 breaststroke heat of 58.90 was followed by 58.78 in the final – a time bettered only in Olympic waters by Peaty himself and 2012 champion Cameron van der Burgh.

On Saturday he hurtled to the top of the 50m world rankings in 26.83, the only man under 27 seconds this year.

On Sunday he returned to the pool to get his hand to the wall first 27.01 ahead of Ross Murdoch (27.48) with James Wilby in third (27.72) as he finished the meet with three medals in the breaststroke events, one of each colour.

Of the race, Peaty told Swimming World:

“It felt a lot quicker than it was, I actually thought it was quicker than last night but obviously turnaround, I think that’s what morning finals are about.

“Tried a little bit different this morning but it’s marginal – 0.18 slower – very marginal but I guess for the morning it’s a good swim. On a 50 I’m normally a 27.2, 27.3 in the morning so it’s good.”

So too has there been the opportunity to learn how to adapt to morning finals with the timeline in Bangor the same as in Tokyo in July.

The meet had served its purpose and more.

“Definitely. The speed’s there, the stroke’s there. I think now race in Edinburgh (Edinburgh International Swim Meet), get a few skins (head-to-head sprinting) under my belt, a bit of really hard training for the next few weeks and then see where we are at trials.”

McSharry Makes Six Trips To The Podium

2 May 2015; Mona McSharry, Marlin, competes in the final of the women's 100m breaststroke event during the 2015 Irish Open Swimming Championships at the National Aquatic Centre, Abbotstown, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Mona McSharry: Photo Courtesy: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

McSharry will have to find a new place to store her medals if she continues at this rate.

On Sunday the Irishwoman won silver in the 50 free in 25.83 as Danielle Hill equalled her own Irish record in 25.29.

She then returned to the water to match that finish in the 50 breaststroke, touching in 31.66 as Sarah Vasey (31.12) made another trip to the top of the podium following joint gold with Siobhan O’Connor over 100.

McSharry – who won her first senior international medal when she took 50m breaststroke bronze at European short-course in December 2019 – has had a medal-laden few days.

There were golds in the 100 free and 50 fly, silver in the 200br and bronze in the 100. A busy and successful campaign for the 2017 world and European junior 100m breaststroke world champion.

She told Swimming World that the pick of her medals was the 200m breaststroke, saying:

“I haven’t swum that in two and a half years and 2:28 was pretty nice, it was close enough to my PB. I was kind of going into that a bit unknown and I didn’t know how that was going to go.

“I was really happy when I finished that race so that was a nice one, yeah.”

As with the rest of the field, McSharry gained valuable insight into morning racing which she described as “something to get your head around definitely.”

She added: “I’ve always loved Dave McCullagh (meet) since I was 15, 16, competing here has always been a great atmosphere. It’s nice to be able to race and have the younger ones here as well.”

And of having the likes of Olympic and world champions Peaty and Scott on poolside, she said:

“It’s kind of weird because it’s quite a small, enclosed environment. At Europeans Adam Peaty and all them are there but you don’t see them as much because it’s a bigger pool and whatever. So it is kind of odd to bump into them at a competition like this when you’re not used to seeing them there.

I think it’s been great. I think it’s really inspiring. There have been a lot of young kids here and even young kids who aren’t racing, they are just coming up to watch, I think it’s really nice to be able to watch some older swimmers.

“Even how they prepare before races and stuff – it is nice to see because it is a different atmosphere I guess with the older competition so I think it’s something great to watch.

“It’s important to watch as well – I’ve enjoyed watching different races.

“I watched Danielle (Hill) race the 100 back – that was probably the best one. Everything else I’ve been kind of running and going ‘oh can I wit to watch this or will I go and get ready for my race?’ It is difficult to balance the two but that was nice to be able to watch that yesterday.”

Smiles Better For Wood

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Abbie Wood: Photo Courtesy: Team GB

Wood has enjoyed her time in Bangor and added 200IM gold to the 200 free title in 2:12.45, ahead of Loughborough training partner in O’Connor (2:12.83).

The 20-year-old, who claimed medals galore during a fine junior career, told Swimming World:

“It’s been really good preparation because if anyone does make the Tokyo team it’s the only meet in the UK that is doing finals in the morning and it’s going to be really important that we’re the nation that’s done the preparation well for that.

“And I think it’s a real test anyway to do a good swim before trials in the morning because it is so much more painful.

“You’re trying to wake yourself up but then you want to get enough rest and you don’t want to wake up too early because you want to get enough sleep. So we’ve done a lot of prep trial and error on things we’d do in Tokyo if we were there.”

Wood, who trains under Dave Hemmings, is a former world junior medallist in the 400IM but the eight-length event has been put on the back burner – at least for now.

“I have taken a step back from it this year: it was more of a mental battle than anything.

“I wasn’t excited for it, it made me not enjoy racing anymore and it wasn’t really going anywhere. I was stuck on PB+3 for two years.

“So my coach said ‘just take a step back, your 200 is improving without us focusing on it so we might as well focus on it this year and see where it goes’.

“So far I am just enjoying swimming so much more: even though I’m training the exact same it’s like a weight lifted off my shoulders.”

Golden Dawn For Scott

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Duncan Scott: Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Scott added the 100 fly and 200IM titles to the 100 and 200 free golds he had already claimed to conclude a highly-successful meet which has seen him catapulted into the upper reaches of the world rankings.

The University of Stirling swimmer won the fly in 52.84 ahead of 17-year-old Ed Mildred (53.04) before returning for the shorter medley.

The 22-year-old was ahead at 150 but a superb turn and underwater by Joe Litchfield saw the Loughborough swimmer draw on to Scott’s shoulder only for the competitive fires to propel the world medley relay champion to victory in 2:00.05 to 2:00.33.

Jervis went stroke for stroke with Max Litchfield in the 400 free before pulling away on the final 50 for victory in 3:49.98 with the older Litchfield brother second in 3:51.46 as the Welshman cracked 3:50.

Jervis told Swimming World:

“My time on paper is ahead of the boys but at the same time, and I learned this in 2016, you never know how it is going to pan out until the actual moment of the race.

“I am happy that I’m swimming quite well and everything but I want to swim well in April. I’m just trying to keep myself calm at the moment and enjoy it.”

Like Jervis, Kane won the distance free triple by taking the eight-length race in 4:23.54.

Alys Thomas added the 200 fly title to her 100 gold as she won a close-fought race with Charlotte Atkinson in 59.23 to 59.36.

Katie Shanahan – who won six medals at last year’s European Youth Olympic Games in Baku, Azerbaijan – is widely tipped to have a bright future.

The 16-year-old won the women’s 200 back in 2:14.06 while Calum Bain won the men’s 50 free in 22.88.

3 comments

  1. avatar
    Thomas Selig

    Just wanted to say I’ve really enjoyed the write-ups this week. It’s been great to have some in-depth reactions from the swimmers, with some really interesting insights, so thanks for the work!

    • avatar
      Craig Lord - Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

      On behalf of Liz, now travelling home, and the team here, many thanks, Thomas. Much appreciated