British Championships: Freya Colbert Makes Fukuoka Cut In 400IM; Anderson Takes First 200 Free Journey Inside 1:56

Freya Colbert thumbs up 400m IM [MorganHarlowBritishSwimming]
Freya Colbert: Photo Courtesy: Morgan Harlow/British Swimming

Freya Colbert may have clinched the sole qualification time for Fukuoka worlds but the first finals session of the British Championships offered a glimpse into an exciting future for the women’s ranks.

Colbert – coached by Dave Hemmings at Loughborough Performance Centre – produced a huge PB of 4:35.50 in the 400IM to go 0.10 inside the cut of 4:36.00 to secure a spot on the team for the 2023 World Championships.

That followed a duel with Katie Shanahan, the Scot clocking 4:36.74, inside the consideration time of 4:37.96 and will surely be on the plane to Japan.

Freya Anderson also took a maiden voyage inside 1:56 in the 200 free, her time of 1:55.89 just 0.03 outside the cut for Fukuoka but well within the consideration time of 1:56.85.

Another doff of the cap to Dave McNulty who has coached all three British women to go 1:55 in the form of Jo Jackson, Siobhan O’Connor and now, Anderson.

Colbert And Shanahan Evoke Memories

Britain has been spoiled in recent years in this event with Hannah Miley and Aimee Willmott gracing world, European and Commonwealth podiums as well as reaching Olympic finals.

The pair have both retired – with Willmott doing commentary at Ponds Forge – but there’s real promise in the form of Shanahan and Colbert.

Shanahan was the 2021 European junior champion and tasted success last year with bronze for Team Scotland at the Commonwealth Games, 0.43 ahead of Colbert in fourth as both women clocked what were then PBs of 4:39.37 and 4:39.80.

Katie Shanahan BSC23

Katie Shanahan: Photo Courtesy: Morgan Harlow, British Swimming

Colbert went on to win bronze at the 2022 European Championships in Rome weeks later with Shanahan in seventh.

The pair were alongside each other and it was Shanahan who led at halfway, 2:11.31 to 2:12.28.

Within the first breaststroke 50 though, Colbert turned a 0.97 deficit into a lead of 0.27 and ultimately won by 1.24secs.


Colbert: 1:03.31/2:12.28/3:31.15/4:35.50

Shanahan: 1:02.54/2:11.31/3:32.12/4:36.74

Colbert said:

“It was a lot faster than I was maybe expecting.

“I’d set my hopes quite high, I was hoping for 4:37 low but I’ve done a lot of work with Dave (coach Dave Hemmings), and we’ve been to altitude and my technique has really improved so I just really wanted to get in there and see what I could do and I am over the moon with that.”

The 19-year-old who started at Loughborough in September, certainly benefited from altitude training at Flagstaff, Arizona, in and out of the water, saying:

“It was so cold – it was minus 13 in the mornings and the Bath lot and Mel’s group were out in Australia having the time of their life and we were in the snow.

“But I bonded really well with the girls out there – I did a lot of work with Katie and we’re so close and so for both of us to swim really big PBs and make that team for Japan, I’m just thrilled to be able to go back out to altitude with her.

“Over the moon really.”

Having won three European medals at Rome 2022 – one of each colour including mixed 4×2 relay gold – as well as Commonwealth bronze, Colbert has used it to move forward.

“I knew I swam really well last year and I wanted to try and top it and keep the momentum going into Paris.

“I couldn’t really have asked for more, I’ve done everything I wanted to so I am just looking forward to seeing what I can do for the rest of the week.”

Anderson Inside 1:56 For First Time

Freya Anderson (photo: Mike Lewis)

Freya Anderson: Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

Only British record-holder Jackson – her time of 1:55.54 still standing from 2009 – and O’Connor with 1:55.82 en-route to silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games – swam inside 1:55.86 during their illustrious careers with both women retired.

That was the size of the task facing the field if they were to book a place on the plane to Japan.

Anderson started the race as third swiftest in British waters with a PB of 1:56.05 from the semis at the 2022 worlds where she went on to finish fourth.

The nine-time European relay champion booked lane four in the morning heats alongside 2022 champion Wood.

Wood led at the first turn only for Anderson to take control from that point, coming home in a PB of 1:55.89, just 0.03 outside the qualification time.

Wood was second in 1:57.21 with Lucy Hope third in 1:58.03.

Splits: 27.61/57.03/1:26.72/1:55.89

Anderson, who was greeted with a hug by McNulty, said of her performance:

“It felt really good, I think it’s the first time I can say I’ve done a full block of training so it’s nice to see it’s paying off.

“Everything clicked so hopefully I can get back training and get that time further down.”

The 22-year-old has had some turbulent times and even fell out of love with swimming in 2021 – Olympic year – going as far as telling Swimming World last year that “I hated swimming. I didn’t want to do it anymore.

However, times have changed and Anderson continued:

“I’ve not really been pleased with a swim for quite a while so it’s good to finally get under that 1:56 and it’s great to see the depth of the girls as well.

“I’m just buzzing, it’s a nice feeling.

“Last year I couldn’t even win the 200 so I really wanted to get that back.

“It’s so amazing the girls are going so fast, it’s really good for relays.”

Victory For Wilby But No Trip To Japan As Yet

Adam Peaty withdrew from the championships last week to focus on his mental health recovery leaving James Wilby favoured across all the breastroke events.

Peaty has topped the podium at every British Champs since 2015 with a winning time of 58.58 in 2022 before he was forced to pull out of Budapest worlds following a foot injury.

James Wilby

James Wilby: Photo Courtesy: British Swimming

It meant a new champion would be crowned with Wilby leading the entry times across all breaststroke events although Archie Goodburn had qualified first from the heats.

Wilby is the only Briton bar Peaty inside the qualification time of 58.93 with a PB of 58.46 en-route to silver at the 2019 worlds in Gwangju.

The Commonwealth champion led Goodburn at 50, 27.90 to 28.10 and came home in 59.94, the only man inside a minute but well outside the qualification or consideration time of 59.16.

However, it would seem that Wilby – who will also go in the 50 and 200 – will be on the plane given Britain will want to qualify a medley relay team for Paris 2024 in Fukuoka with the dreaded alternative being a trip to Doha worlds in February next year.

Greg Butler, coached by Mel Marshall at Loughborough, was second in 1:00.03 with Goodburn clocking 1:00.20.

Turley Repels Late Bird Charge

Kieran Bird led the way in the 400 free heats in 3:54.26 ahead of Charlie Hutchison (3:54.96) and Luke Turley (3:55.17).

Come the final and Turley held a 1.79sec advantage over Bath National Centre teammate Bird with 100 remaining.

Tokyo Olympian Bird however started to make inroads and was closing with every stroke down the last metres.

Turley held on to win 3:48.31 ahead of Bird (3:48.61) with Hutchison rounding out the podium in 3:52.41 although neither of the first two were near the qualification time of 3:44.06 nor the consideration time of 3:46.34.

Clark DQd; Morgan Wins 50 Back

Imogen Clark had impressed in qualifying when she was the only woman inside 31secs, 0.62 ahead of Kara Hanlon.

The 23-year-old set the British record en-route to silver for Team England at the 2022 Commonwealth Games behind Lara van Niekerk.

All seemed to be going to plan for the two-time European medallist as she touched in 30.09 but alongside her name was a DQ.

Instead, Hanlon was crowned champion in a Scottish record of 30.50 ahead of Sienna Robinson (31.46) and Angharad Evans (31.72).

Oli Morgan led the way into the 50 back final with the field separated by 0.59.

And it was the Birmingham University swimmer who headed the field in the final as the only man inside 25secs in 24.84.

Behind him came Sebastian Somerset (25.21) and Cameron Brooker (25.23) with 0.40secs separating third to eighth.



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