Wattel Fires Off 53.40 100 Free: Wood Goes Sub-2:10 In 200IM As Manchester Meet Ends

Marie Wattel (photo: Mike Lewis)
Marie Wattel: Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

Marie Wattel fired off a rapid 53.40 in the 100 free and Abbie Wood concluded an excellent three days by going inside 2:10 for the first time in the 200IM at the Manchester International Swim Meet.

James Guy claimed his third title of the meet in the 200fr and there was a class swim by Louise Hansson in the 100 fly.

James Wilby took the 200br in 2:10.81 after silvers behind Adam Peaty over 50 and 100m while Molly Renshaw took her third medal of the meet with bronze in the 50br as Imogen Clark claimed the victory and Luke Greenbank added the 100 back to his 200m title in 54.67.

Peaty had appeared in the 200 heats, using it for race practice over 100 where he clocked 59.3 before stopping and subsequently being DQd.

Link to results

The Litchfield brothers both made the podium with Max winning the 400IM and Joe taking bronze in the 200 free.

Both are coached by Dave Hemmings at Loughborough National Centre who also includes Wood, Renshaw and Wilby among his charges.

Clearly all are happy swimmers and of note are their fine turns and underwaters.

In the para-swimming, Ellie Challis obliterated the British S3 100 free record in the heats, taking 18 seconds off the mark that had stood for 14 years in 1:59.57 before she smashed it again in the final, lowering it to 1:55.30.

Jordan Catchpole concluded his excellent meet, touching first in the multi-classification 100 back in 1:01.86 and 200 free in 2:02.58.

Wattel Tears Through Rapid Waters

Wattel had already giving a sprinting demonstration in the 50 free and 50 fly this weekend before she lined up for the 100 free.


Marie Wattel: Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

The Frenchwoman, who trains at Loughborough, was in lane five next to Anna Hopkin although there was no Freya Anderson – who hadn’t swum the heats – and Wood, who had swum the fourth fastest time in prelims but opted to focus on the 200IM.

Wattel was already 0.16 off the Briton at halfway, going out in 25.78 and extended her lead on the second 50 to come back in 27.62 to stop the clock at a time that propelled her to the top of the fledgling rankings.

She displaced Femke Heemskerk who twice went sub-54 at last month’s Flanders Qualification Meet and while many of the ‘big hitters’ are yet to swim in competitive waters, it’s a time that will be noticed on pool decks.

Indeed, it would have been good enough for fourth at the 2018 Europeans and eighth a year later at worlds.

Hopkin was second in 54.99 with Hansson – who had earlier won the 100 fly from which Wattel had withdrawn – third in 55.05.

Wood So Good As She Speeds Into Unknown Territory

Wood has had a meet which underlines her trajectory winning the 200 free in a huge PB and swimming into 2:22 territory in the 200br.

Up next in the final women’s event of the session was the 200IM.

The 21-year-old went off like a shot on the fly and by the first turn, held a 1.33sec lead over the next best swimmer and one she extended to take the win by 6.71secs in 2:09.38, a PB of 2.3secs.

Lily Booker – the 400IM winner – touched next in 2:16.09.

Splits: 27.96/1:01.31/1:38.39/2:09.38

Abbie Wood (photo: Mike Lewis)

Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

Wood trains at the National Centre Loughborough along with Rio silver medallist Siobhan O’Connor, who didn’t compete in Manchester – the pair destined to meet at the Olympic trials and perhaps share the water in Tokyo.

It hasn’t been plain sailing by any means for Wood who struggled to make the transition to senior waters following a successful junior career.

She moved to Loughborough from her hometown of Buxton in the English midlands aged 16, sharing a house with 16 rugby players, eight men and eight women, and has been coached by Hemmings ever since.

Her senior GB debut at the 2017 worlds in Budapest was one of her lowest points and she admits she considered quitting.

There were heart-to-heart conversations with Hemmings, where he reminded her of how normal it is not to succeed in your first senior competition, and Wood ploughed on.

Bit by bit she saw the improvements and following a fine ISL campaign, Wood has now announced herself in a big way on the international scene.

In a piece with Swimming World, she talked about how she got her mojo back but also looked to the delayed Olympics, saying:

“I would have loved Tokyo to have been in 2020 but I feel like I wouldn’t have all this racing under my belt: I feel like the extra year has done me a massive favour.”

At the current rate of improvement, those words look pertinent.

Of her weekend, Wood said through British Swimming:

“I’m over the moon, really. It’s come as quite a big surprise.

“Off the back of the ISL (International Swimming League), I was hoping to back it up over long course, but there’s always the thing in the back of your head, wondering whether it will happen!

“But long course has really come together for me now, which is really positive.

“I felt, because it was the end of the meet, I just had to be on a bit of a mission and go into the 200m IM with tunnel vision.

“I had a few swims in me that I’d done and though I was hurting a bit, I’m really glad I dragged that out of myself.”

She added:

“I actually think the 200m breaststroke was the highlight for me on Friday, just because it was the most unexpected swim I’ve ever done!

“I really wasn’t expecting to go anywhere near that time. I used to love the breaststroke and I thought it was supposed to be one of my more fun events this weekend because I hadn’t done it in a while – so to post a time like that, I was over the moon.

“Obviously I was really happy with the 200m IM, but because that’s my main event, while I wasn’t expecting it at all, I was hoping that would happen.

“With the breaststroke, you could tell by my and Molly Renshaw’s faces at the end, it was a shock.

“With the Olympics coming up, everyone was itching to do long-course racing – and I felt so fortunate to be chosen to do the meet.

“Everyone swimming here was so grateful to be here and that it could go ahead, with all the staff working so hard. It was really good, everyone stuck to the rules and respected everything because we were so grateful to be here.”

Happy Guy Wins From Lane Two

Guy won the 100 fly on the opening night before a dominant 1:56 victory over 200m on Saturday where he came within half a second of his PB.

The 200 free final was one of such depth that Guy – the 2015 world champion – was out in lane two with Tom Dean, the 100 free champion, and Felix Auboeck of Austria occupying the centre lanes.


Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

Dean led at the first turn but Guy – the two-time Olympic silver relay medallist – went ahead on the second 50, a position he never relinquished as the first three home all clocked 1:47.


Guy: 24.84/51.75/1:19.27/1:47.19

Dean: 24.69/51.90/1:19.71/1:47.42

J Litchfield: 24.93/52.44/1:20.21/1:20.21

The 200 free is set to be a corker of a tussle at the British Olympic trials scheduled for the first weekend in April with world bronze medallist Duncan Scott awaiting.

Hansson Flies To Victory

Hansson – who was seventh at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju – went 57.83 in the 100 fly to head to the top of the early rankings.

The Swede turned second at 50, 0.08 behind Harriet Jones, before overhauling the Welshwoman and coming home in 30.61.

Jones touched in 58.52, a day after lowering her own Welsh record to 26.34 in the 50 fly although Jemma Lowe’s 100 mark of 57.43 from June 2011 still stands.

Max Litchfield – who was fourth at Rio 2016 – had a seven-second margin of victory in the 400IM in 4:16.38 with Charlie Hutchison touching second in 4:23.72.

European silver medallist Imogen Clark got her hand to the wall first in the 50br in 30.76 ahead of Commonwealth champion Sarah Vasey (30.80) with Renshaw third in 31.71.

It concluded an excellent meet for Renshaw who tied the British 200 record in 2:22.08 – good enough for bronze at Rio 2016 – on Friday before taking the 100 title on Saturday and then bronze.

Honey Osrin, the 17-year-old who claimed silver at the 2019 European Junior Championships, won the 200 back in 2:13.13 ahead of Chloe Golding (2:13.90) in what was essentially a head-to-head with just the two in the final.

Jacob Peters got a PB of 23.65 as the solo swimmer in the men’s 50 fly

In the multi-classification para-swimming programme, Zara Mullooly led the way in the 100 free in 1:00.91 and Katie Crowhurst went 1:20.74 in the MC 100 fly final in which she was the sole competitor.

Maisie Summers-Newton topped the 200IM in 3:00.69.

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