Laura Stephens & Lucy Hope Added To Team GB For Tokyo; No Women’s 4×200 Free Quartet

Laura Stephens
Laura Stephens: Picture Courtesy: Georgie Kerr, British Swimming

Laura Stephens and Lucy Hope have been added to Team GB bringing to 30 the number of swimmers that will represent Britain in Tokyo next month.

However, there will be no women’s 4×200 team despite them being European champions with Freya Anderson and Abbie Wood both having individual events in the same heats and finals sessions as the relay.

Stephens won gold with the British women’s 4×100 medley relay at the European Championships in Budapest as the team topped the medal table with 11 golds among an overall total of 26.

The Plymouth Leander swimmer, who is coached by Robin Armayan, followed that up at the British Swimming Glasgow Meet earlier this month with a huge 200 fly PB of 2:07.04 in heats.

Given consideration times were to be done in finals, Stephens returned in the morning to post 2:08.15, within the cut and now on the plane.

She said:

“It feels absolutely incredible and a bit overwhelming, part of it hasn’t quite sunk in yet and I don’t think it will until I’m literally on the plane going,

“Every time that I have represented this country, it’s always been such a big honour, but to do it on the biggest stage that our sport has is a real honour and such a privilege.

“I feel incredibly lucky. I’ve had the best support staff that I could have around me, my family and friends have been there for me since day one, they have believed in me, and that is the meaning behind being able to put that kit on and say ‘I’m an Olympian for Team GB’.”

Hope, of Edinburgh University, left Budapest with four gold relay medals and has had a season of fine consistency which will see her on the women’s 4×100 free on the first day of competition.

She said:

“It’s quite surreal, especially after the year we’ve all had with COVID and everything. It has extended a four-year cycle to a five-year cycle. I’m just over the moon and can’t wait for the experience.

“My first-ever Olympics, it’s the pinnacle of our sport. It will be special. We’ve got kitting out soon, so even just to go and experience that, it’s all about me absorbing as much as I can and then going and putting down some good performances in the summer.”

While the pair were overjoyed at their well-deserved inclusions, there will have been some disappointment at the absence of the 4×2.

The quartet of Hope, Tamryn van Selm, Holly Hibbott and Anderson won the European title in 7:53.15 ahead of Hungary and Italy.

To make the Olympic final at Rio 2016 took 7:53.43 and it would have taken the inclusion of one of Anderson or Wood – if not both – to ensure progression to the final.

However, Anderson has the 100 free heats and Wood the 200 breaststroke in the same session as the relay heats with the final taking place at the end of the morning of 29 July which features the semis of their events.

Just the men’s 200IM semis and women’s 200 fly victory ceremony separates the women’s 200br semis and the 4×2 final which would have made for a very tight turnaround for Wood and one that may have been counter-productive.

On the final selections for the swimming team, Team GB Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020 Mark England said:

“It is fantastic to be able to welcome two more talented swimmers on to the team for the Tokyo Olympic Games. This is an incredibly strong team of 30 individuals and we’ve seen from Laura and Lucy’s recent performances that they will undoubtedly impress in Tokyo.

“We’d like to congratulate them both on their selection and hope that they soak up all the excitement that comes with being an Olympic debutant.”

Chris Spice, British Swimming National Performance Director and Team GB Swimming Team Leader, added:

“I’m delighted to welcome Laura and Lucy on to the team, their selection just reward for some impressive swims over the last month, individually and most importantly in our relays. They have shown incredible resilience to bounce back and get the job done – this epitomises one of the key traits of our 30-strong team.

“I’ve no doubt they, along with the rest of the team, will kick on again as we fine tune our preparations for the Games over the coming weeks.”

Team GB will add the final aquatics athletes to its line-up for Tokyo later this month with the announcements of the artistic and marathon swimmers.

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