Britain Get Off To A Bracing Start With Two Golds On Day 1 At Euro S/C Championships

2023-12-05 Reading Time: 4 minutes
Day 1 winners: Abbie Wood and teammates Ben Proud, Matt Richards, Alex Cohoon and Lewis Burras at Euro s/c Champs in Romania - courtesy of British Swimming
Day 1 winners: Abbie Wood and teammates Ben Proud, Matt Richards, Alex Cohoon and Lewis Burras at Euro s/c Champs in Romania - courtesy of British Swimming

Britain celebrated a bracing start to the European Short Course Championships in Romania today, Abbie Wood and the Men’s 4x50m freestyle relay team claiming a gold apiece and Freya Colbert and the women’s sprint freestyle relay quartet adding to the podium prizes.

The following notes bring together British Swimming’s report, Swim Ireland’s report and my further notes in the midst of a challenging day of four cancelled flights and a three-hour journey stretched to 16 hours – the joys of travel in 2023 🙂 …

In the final action of the first evening session, the foursome of Ben Proud, Matt Richards, Alex Cohoon and Lewis Burras combined in devastating fashion to secure the top step of the Otopeni podium, smashing by more than a second the British record that had only been reset in the morning’s heats, when Duncan Scott had played his part in getting the team qualified. 

Championship Results In Full / Livestream and meet details

After Proud’s characteristically strong start put Britain in front in the final, Richards – thanks in part to some superb underwaters – strengthened the British lead, with senior GB debutant Cohoon showing great arena composure to deliver his leg well and protect the lead. 

It was then over to Burras to set the fastest split of the entire race and anchor the team to an emphatic victory in 1:22.52.

“Growing in the sport, when I was 11 or 12, all I wanted to do was make a national time. So 12-13 years later, hearing your national anthem being played, for a performance you have been part of, it’s a moment to remember. I don’t know if I’ll get that moment again, so I really wanted to savour that one,” said Lewis.

Double world champion and GB swimmer of the year Matt Richards added: “It was a great job from the boys tonight. To see four British lads all go sub-21 is something we’ve never seen and it shows the depth we’ve got. Year on year on year, we’re just getting stronger and stronger. It’s phenomenal and it bodes really well for the relays for the rest of the week.”

Britain 1-2 in the Women’s 400IM

As well as closing the night in style, the British team raised the curtain in memorable fashion, as Wood and Colbert combined for a brilliant gold-silver double in the Women’s 400m Individual Medley.

Abbie Wood – by Georgie Kerr, courtesy of British Swimming

The Loughborough Performance Centre teammates, who both train under coach David Hemmings, delivered on their favoured strokes, with Colbert taking charge after a strong backstroke leg to sit ahead at halfway.

But Wood answered back brilliantly across the 100m of breaststroke, those four laps proving crucial as she overtook her training partner and then defended her position with a controlled freestyle finish, touching the wall to claim her maiden senior individual title on the international stage.

Colbert followed her into the wall for the silver to fully kickstart the British medal tally.

Ellen Walshe delivered a treat for Ireland when she came home for the bronze:

A shout out also goes to the third challenger from Britain, Katie Shanahan, who was third-fastest overall in the heats but did not progress as she placed behind Colbert and Wood in the two-per-nation rule.

Reflecting on her victory, Abbie said: “That’s my first senior international individual title, so I can’t be mad at that at all! It’s getting my week off to a good start as well. I wish I’d had more confidence going into that race, but I’m really glad I pulled it out in the end, so I’m really happy.”

Freya added: “I’m really happy. It’s great to be up there with Abbie, I love racing her as teammates. I would’ve liked to be up on the top, but it wasn’t to be today!” 

Dan Wiffen Takes Gold For Ireland

The Loughborough crew in Romania also celebrated Irish gold for their teammate Daniel Wiffen and a cracking victory over Danas Rapsys in the 400m freestyle, a national record of 3:35.47 to 3:37.80, with Wiffen’s training partner Lucas Henveaux, of Belgium, third must shy of the Lithuanian, in 3:37.91.

Wiffen has continued his onslaught of the history books with gold in the 400m Freestyle at the Olympic Complex Otopeni this evening. The Magheralin man, who is the European Record holder in the 800m Freestyle, put on a dominant display to be crowned European Champion for the first time. Wiffen stayed with the pack for the first 200 metres of the race and then secured a lead which was never relinquished. The delighted champion said:

 “I want to start by saying well done to Ellen, she was class, she inspired me to go and get a gold then. That race was amazing to be part of, I got to the 200 and everyone was close together and I thought I’m going to go now or never, so I just went, and it worked out. It just felt amazing, I don’t know what to say, I’m stuck for words, we do so much work in training and then this is on the back of winning at U23s in Dublin and to win in the next European’s is great.”

Dan Wiffen

Wiffen returns to the pool tomorrow for the heats of the 1500m Freestyle. The 400m battle:

You can follow updates and the crack on The Wiffen Twins and team-mates on You Tube and in our Vortex column when we resume full service in the near future here at SOS.

In the Women’s 4x50m Freestyle Relay, Britain was back on the podium with quartet of Anna Hopkin, Freya Anderson, Lucy Hope and Medi Harris taking bronze. The gold went to Sweden, with Italy third.

Lucy said: “I’m really happy to come third with the girls. The 4x50m is a bit unusual for us, it’s perhaps a bit short maybe, but really fun to get in there and kick things off with the relay.”

Freya added: “It was a good result. I wasn’t too happy with my own performance but that doesn’t matter, the team got on the podium which was the important thing and it’s a nice way to cap off this first training block of the Olympic cycle. It’s a great place to race (here in Romania) and also train.”

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