Brit Ben Proud Blasts 20.18 ER, CR For Biggest 50 Free Win In Euro S/C History 0.02sec Shy Of WR

2023-12-07 Reading Time: 4 minutes
Benjamin PROUD of Great Britain reacts after winning in the Men's 50m Freestyle Final during the swimming events of the 19th Fina World Championships held at the Duna Arena in Budapest, Hungary, Friday, June 24, 2022. (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)
Ben Proud, the sprint pride of Britain (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)

Britain’s Ben Proud crushed the European and Championship 50m free marks and fell just 0.02sec shy of the World record with a 20.18sec blast for gold in the biggest margin of victory ever seen in the dash final at the European Short-Course Championships.

Proud’s sensational speed left the previous continental king of the dash and 2012 Olympic champion Florent Manaudou, of France, gasping for breath on 20.74 for shared silver 0.56sec back in a snap with Hungarian Szebasztian Szabo.

At the other end of the distance scale on Day 3: Dan Wiffen Writes Irish Swim History With 14:09 Triumph In Otopeni 1500 For Second Gold As 3rd Swiftest Man Ever

The French sprint ace had held the European standard at 20.26 since 2014 , while Proud also took out the Championship mark that Russian Vladimir Morozov set in 2017.

There were just two men inside 10sec at the turn: Proud on a sizzling 9.64, Manaudou on 9.82, Italians Lorenzo Zazzeri and Alessandro Miressi on 10.03 and 10.05 respectively, Szabo splitting the difference on 10.04.

Take away the blast off the block and Proud’s swimming speed on the way home was just as fast, if not faster, that all finalists down the opening lap: 10.51 off a push. Make that a whip, drive, furious flutter and killer-whale of a break into stroke.

Ben Proud: That Was “Bizarre” !

American Caeleb Dressel‘s 20.16 World mark from 2020 survived the onslaught. Just. Proud, who had a stellar summer season of triple sprint victories in 2022, emerged from rocketing duties to say the speed was “bizarre” – and suggest he would retire after the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Benjamin PROUD of Great Britain on his way out after winning in the Men's 50m Freestyle Final during the swimming events of the 19th Fina World Championships held at the Duna Arena in Budapest, Hungary, Friday, June 24, 2022. (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)

“That’s really bizarre. I came into this meet just really wanting to chase that title – I did that, I was after Championship mindset racing, my mentality towards the race was really my only focus. I delivered that, and the time was just a bonus. It’s frustratingly close to that world record, but I’m not chasing that, it’s a great way to end the season!

“When Caeleb Dressel came along I knew I was not going to be the best sprinter and now we have Cam McEvoy too, so it’s about being consistent, and to be 29 and doing PBs feels great. Coming here I said I wanted that title. It’s the only one outside of the Olympics I didn’t have and now, regardless of what happens at the Olympics next year I feel I can retire happy.”

Ben Proud (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)

A Blast For All Nerds and the Rest…

The two silver medallists both have strong connections with the champion of 2023: Manaudou was also coached by James Gibson on the way to some of his finest career victories, including Olympic gold, while Szabo has been training with Proud of late.

Manaudou said: “I’m super happy with this silver as based on my performance in the heats and the semis I didn’t expect anything like this, I just wanted to enjoy the final. Also, I knew Ben would be really fast, though not that fast, thought he would make 20.3, 20.4, congrats for this amazing record. For me, it’s great feeling to add another medal to my collection and to stand on the podium with these guys.”

Szabo said: “We’ve been training together with Ben (Proud) recently and I can tell you there wasn’t such a gap that time – so he was really fast today and he clocked an astonishing record, credits to him. I’m more than happy with this silver, I’d say I’m on the right track after disappointment in Fukuoka. The 1st 25m was better in the semis, now the 2nd 25m was great, but this is the dash, you really need to put it together in short-course. More or less, it was OK after all.”

Championship Results In Full / Livestream and meet details

Women’s 200m backstroke: Harris and Shanahan Take 1-2 For Britain

Proud went to his blocks buoyed by a British gold-silver punch in the first final of day 3: the first turn was the last time Medi Harris, coached by David Hemmings at Loughborough, did not lead the final on the way to a 2:02.45 lifetime-best victory ahead teammate Katie Shanahan, on a career-high 2:03.22 for silver.

The bronze went to France’s Pauline Mahieu, a home hope for glory at the Paris 2024 Olympics next year, her 2:03.90 keeping Italy’s former European No 1 Margherita Panziera at bay by 0.45sec. Harris said:

“I’m very, very happy. I’m just really pleased. I’m glad I entered this event – I’ve not done it in three years so I’m really happy to have gone and done that. I’m quite shocked.”

Medi Harris – Image – Medi Harris with Dave Hemmings, courtesy the coach on X

Men’s 100m breast: Kamminga Pips Martinenghi by 0.05, Corbeau Delivering Dutch 1-3

Arno Kamminga, the Dutch double Olympic silver medallist, came back from seventh at the 25, 7th at the 50m and 6th at the 75m mark to claim gold in 56.52 in a blanket finish 0.05sec ahead of fellow Olympic podium placer Nicolo Martinenghi of Italy.

The bronze saw Caspar Corbeau deliver a Dutch 1-3, his bronze grabbed in 56.66. Teammate Kamminga said:

“It’s great to be back after four years and winning again. I had a hard time, first it was hard to
take a step back from swimming and watch the others from the sideline and even if I wanted
to race my body said now. Then I returned, trained hard but the results did not come for a
while – so now it’s great to achieve this, to be on the top of the podium.”

Arno Kamminga, by Patrick B. Kraemer

Women’s 200m butterfly: Kohler Takes Gold For Germany

Angelina Kohler led from go to gold for Germany in 2:03.30 in a close battle with Denmark’s Helena Rosendahl Bach, on 2:03.86 for silver. The bronze went to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Lana Pudar in a European Junior record of 2:04.55, downing her own continental standard of 2:04.88 from 2021.

Women’s 100m medley: Bonnet & Gastaldello Bank A 1-2 For France

Charlotte Bonnet and Beryl Gastaldello banked a gold-silver celebration for France on 57.47 and 57.67 respectively. The bronze went to Louise Hansson, of Sweden, in 58.33.

Women’s 4x50m medley: Sweden Taker A Second Relay Gold

After victory in the 4x50m freestyle, Sweden celebrated gold for a second women’s quartet in the medley final, Italy taking silver, Britain the bronze in a national record, their quartet featuring Olympic mixed-medley relay champion Kathleen Dawson as she makes her way back from post-injury rehabilitation.

Dawson was happy to be back and feeling in good shape once more. She said:

“It’s been a journey with lots of ups and downs so I’ve just had to believe in myself. To be as consistent as I have been, is amazing. I’m swimming the 50 back as quickly as I was back in 2016 so I’m really happy to be performing for the team.”

Kathleen Dawson. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Scottish Swimming

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