British Championships: Lewis Burras Edges Duncan Scott By 0.01 To Retain 100 Free Title; Dan Jervis & Laura Stephens Make Fukuoka Cut

Lewis Burras Sheffield23
Lewis Burras: Photo Courtesy: Morgan Harlow/British Swimming

British Championships: Lewis Burras Edges Duncan Scott By 0.01 To Retain 100 Free Title; Dan Jervis & Laura Stephens Punch Tickets To Fukuoka

Lewis Burras edged out Duncan Scott by 0.01 to retain his 100 free title as 0.03 separated the first three home while Dan Jervis and Laura Stephens punched their tickets for the Fukuoka worlds at the British Championships.

Burras won in 47.99 ahead of Scott (48.00) and Matt Richards (48.02) who went second in the all-time domestic rankings with 47.72 in the prelims at Ponds Forge.

All three were inside the consideration time for the World Championships although no swimmer clinched outright qualification.

Jervis served up a superb performance with the second-fastest 1500 free of his career in 14:46.95, one that left the Welshman emotional after desolation had left him at “rock-bottom”.

Stephens became the fourth British woman inside 2:07 for the 200 fly to book her place on the team in 2:06.62 with Emily Large‘s 2:07.33 a consideration time.

Anna Hopkin also posted a consideration time in the 50 free.

They join Freya Colbert who got automatic qualification in the 400IM with Katie Shanahan – also in the 400IM – and Freya Anderson (200 free) having posted consideration times.

Richards, part of the 4×200 squad that won gold in Tokyo, cut 0.51secs from his previous PB of 48.23 in prelims, a time he swam at the Olympic selection meet in April 2021 and then in Tokyo.

The 20-year-old became the fourth Briton to go 47 following Burras and his British standard of 47.63 set at the 2022 worlds, Tom Dean (47.83) and Scott (47.87).

Burras, a blur of splash and speed, reached halfway in 22.64 ahead of Richards (23.01) and Jacob Whittle (23.25) with Scott fourth, 0.79 behind the leader.

Scott ate away at the deficit, his second 50 of 24.57 taking him past all bar Burras who took the win by the tiniest of margins.

Lewis Burras

Lewis Burras: Photo Courtesy: Georgie Kerr, British Swimming

Dean – the Olympic champion – was fourth in 48.32.

Burras told Swimming World:

“We had five people who could get on that podium, win that event.

And just in the call room everyone was so relaxed, everyone was really looking forward to the moment and I managed to get on board with that.

“I said ‘you know what, I’m nervous, this is going to hurt the last 20 but I’m doing it with my peers, my competitors,’ and what a lucky position I’m in to have raced in the fastest-ever British 100m freestyle final and this relay is really exciting now.”

Britain was fourth in the 4×1 at last year’s World Championships, 0.19 off third-placed Italy despite a 46.95 anchor by Dean.

They upgraded to bronze at the Europeans in Rome when Burras – as with several swimmers – opted not to compete following the Commonwealth Games.

After Thursday’s final, the 4×1 were 0.7 inside the consideration time for worlds.

Burras – coached in Perth, Australia, by Zoe Baker – continued:

“We did it in Budapest for the first time together, the youngest relay age average there.

“This year it just seems different, it seems like everyone’s firing that bit more, everyone’s a little but hungrier.

“Why can’t we go into Japan and do something special?”

Scott spoke after morning heats that all the finalists would be looking beyond Britain to international waters with unlimited ambition.

Burras concurred saying:

“Certainly no ceiling and why put a ceiling on it?

“We know what the ultimate glory is in our sport and why can’t we dare to go for it? Why can’t we dare to dream?”

Scott the racer revelled in the maelstrom, saying:

“Everyone knew going in what it was going to be like. everyone outside knew what it was going to be like.

“Those are the sort of events I love, it doesn’t matter what shape I’m in, what my preparation is like, I’m here to compete. I think in those situations I do it really well.

“I’m really happy with that. Time wise this season has been all over the shop so to be able to put it together like that fills me with confidence for the rest of the week for sure. That 4×100 is exciting now.

“I was right next to Matt [Richards], and [Lewis] Burras was next to me but I couldn’t really see. At that stage there is no point in looking at what other people are doing. The last 25 is about focusing on your own thing and Lewis is a tall guy so you need to be really far ahead to get the touch.”

Speaking of the how he approached such a highly-anticipated race, he continued:

“I’ve been in big finals and finals where the home crowd have been mad.

“Whether that is in Brazil, or Hungary, or in Tokyo. I think I’m well equipped for situations like that.

“The 100 free is always a bit more cagey than other events, but that really benefits me in terms of coming through the field.”

Not that it’s certain he will compete over two lengths in Fukuoka, the six-time Olympic medallist said:

“I’m not sure it’s an event that I’ll do again internationally but I guess I’ll need to see how the rest of the week goes!”

Jervis Leaves Desolation Behind

Jervis has dominated British distance swimming for years and was last defeated over 1500 in domestic waters in 2016.

The Swim Wales High Performance Centre swimmer – who was fifth in Tokyo – set his PB of 14:46.51 back in 2019 and a repeat would see him on the plane to Japan.

The 26-year-old was two body-lengths ahead of Tobias Robinson by the 200m mark with the rest of the field over five seconds further adrift.

Daniel Jervis 23

Dan Jervis: Photo Courtesy: Morgan Harlow/British Swimming

He extended his lead throughout, reaching the 800m mark in 7:52.96 with the only battle that of the Welshman against the clock.

He hit 1300 in 12:50.44, 1400 in 13:49.68 and 1450 in 14:19.08 with a 27.87 final-length blast seeing him into the wall in 14:46.95.

His time – exactly a second outside David Davies‘ British record which has stood since Athens 2004 – qualified him automatically to the British team.

Robinson was second in 15:04.76 with Jervis’ Swansea teammate Nathan Hughes completing the podium in 15:29.63.

It all had special significance for an emotional Jervis who was desolate when he had to pull out of the 2022 Commonwealth Games following Covid where Sam Short of Australia won in 14:48.54.

He told Swimming World:

“It’s great. I’m really relieved, I’m really happy. I put my heart and soul into this year – as everyone does, as I do every year – but this year meant to much to me because I felt like I was at rock bottom (last year) and it was horrible.

“I felt really alone but I knew I had people there for me, I am so grateful. That’s why I got emotional because they (my parents) are everything to me, it just means a lot to me.”

Stephens Soars To New Heights

Ellen Gandy‘s national mark of 2:04.83 has stood since the super-suited era of 2009, the only time a British woman has gone inside 2:05.

Jemma Lowe is second in the national rankings with her 2011 time of 2:05.36, the Welshwoman in attendance at Ponds Forge this week.

Laura Stephens 23

Laura Stephens: Photo Courtesy: Morgan Harlow/British Swimming

Alys Thomas – now retired – is the other British woman inside 2:06 with a best of 2:05.45 en-route to the Commonwealth title in 2018.

Stephens of Loughborough Performance Centre, topped the prelims with 2:07.62 to take her place in lane four.

She split 28.88/1:00.83 for the first 100 before she and Large pulled away from the field and moved through the gears to reach 150 in 1:33.06 to 1:33.75.

Those pianos were on both women’s backs but they were forgotten by Stephens when she touched in 2:06.62 to book an outright slot in Fukuoka.

Large clocked 2:07.33 for a consideration time with Keanna Macinnes third in a Scottish record of 2:08.05.

Stephens said:

“I was very surprised with the swim this morning, to look up and see a 2:07, I’ve never done that in a morning swim. That was a big confidence boost that I took into the final tonight, I knew I could just enjoy it and hopefully move it on, and I did that, so I can’t complain!” she said.

“This gives me loads of confidence. I feel like I’m in such a different place than I was last season or any of the seasons before that. I’m so happy, I’m enjoying training, I’m enjoying racing again, I feel like I’ve got my motivation back and I’m just looking to keep that going all season and through into next year as well.”

Hopkin Sprints Within Sight Of Fukuoka

Coached by Mel Marshall at Loughborough Performance Centre, the 26-year-old Hopkin won bronze at short-course worlds in December.

She was the only woman inside 25 in prelims in 24.72, a time she improved in the final, rising ahead and touching in 24.51 to book a consideration time for Fukuoka.

Rebecca Guy was second in 25.30 with 16-year-old Eva Okaro third in 25.36.

Hutchison Wins 400IM

Scott broke the British record at last year’s trials in the same Ponds Forge pool, a meeting that showcased his all-round excellence and prompting James Guy to describe him as “a skinnier version of Michael Phelps“.

He isn’t competing in the event this year with the qualification time the same as his record which was swifter than Tokyo gold.

Mark Szaranek, the 2018 Commonwealth silver medallist, led the way into the final and led Charlie Hutchison after the fly in 57.38 to 57.64.

Hutchison though turned the race on its head on the backstroke, moving two body-lengths clear to reach halfway in 2:01.19 with William Ryley moving second in 2:05.47.

Szaranek made some inroads into the deficit and was 3.35 behind the Loughborough Performance Centre swimmer at 300.

Hutchison tired down the final 50 with Szaranek leading the charge but he had too much of a lead and won in 4:17.89.

Ryley came past Szaranek to take second in 4:19.11 with the Scot in 4:19.56.







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