Dan Jervis Times His Move To Perfection To Keep Kieran Bird At Bay in 800 Free, Both On 7:50, A Reach Shy Of Tokyo Cut

2021-04-15 Reading Time: 3 minutes
Dan Jervis - qualifying in 2021 and now back ion the Olympic team in 2024 photo by Georgie Kerr, courtesy of British Swimming

On 7mins 50.33sec and 7:50.75, Dan Jervis and Kieran Bird, in that order, were just shy of the target time required for a ticket to what will be the first 800m freestyle race for men in Olympic history this July in Tokyo.

No matter. It was a great race and chances are that they’ll both be pioneers come summer, Bird having booked his team ticket in the 400m free yesterday and Jervis emerging from a terrifically-timed tactical 800 battle to tell former Wales and Britain teammate Jazz Carlin on poolside in the Covid-free safety bubble at the London Aquatics Centre “I’m going to smash it on Sunday night” in the 1500m freestyle before trials draw to a close.

There’s also the discretion of selectors as more race opportunities unfold in May before the Britain team is finalised. Today was about rapid learning curves after Bird reminded the distance crew that a race is about racing.

Kieran Bird after making the British Olympic team in the 400m freestyle on Day 1 at Trials in London – photo by Georgie Kerr, courtesy of British Swimming

Having experienced the Kieran Bird blast-of-wings flying away down the last lap of the 400m freestyle yesterday, Dan Jervis, coached by Adam Baker in Swansea, was not about to be fooled twice: off the wall at 150m to go, Jervis sprinted as if he were heading to the stop of clock that very length.

He knew he had to have the measure and better of Bird by a significant margin if, as the 1500m man in the mix, he was to keep the 400m champion at bay.

The tactic worked a treat in a battle that for the most part involved Toby Robinson, third in 7:54.66 by the close of business beyond the Jervis-Bird bout ending with a blistering last-length from a man who didn’t quite get there from a full body length back off the last wall to the swing of an arm away from gold.

Jervis, the bronze medallist for Wales over 1500m at the 2014 Commonwealth Games (what a finish!) who stepped up to silver at the 2018 Games, was a touch down on his 800 best today, while Bird bounced inside 8 minutes for the first time with a 10-second improvement, expected after he said yesterday that a 3:46 win over 400m and a 4sec gain on previous best was “unexpected” because he and his coach had been working towards selection in the 800m.

Both men were feeling the fatigue of day 1 battle as they took to their blocks for the 800, Jervis telling Carlin: “I’m am happy with that swim. It’s just off the consideration time but coming into this swim today, I wasn’t feeling at my best. I was tired and emotions were still running high from last night.”

In the pause that followed, Carlin was about to ask about … but Jervis knows well his former teammate and double silver medallist at Rio 2016 begging Katie Ledecky over 400 and 800m distance. He leapt in to say: “I’m going to smash it Sunday night”. Bring on the 1500!

Jervis also wanted to say two other things without being asked, Carlin’s mention of challenges of Covid sparking this from one 800m champion to another: 

“I’ve been very fortunate. I train in Swansea and we’ve had only so many in the pool. I feel like I’m swimming for the guys who are not able to swim and train right now. This is to them: ‘keep going, you’re doing well’.”

Dan Jervis

The 800m battle:

PlaceNameYoBClub Time  Pts 
1.Daniel Jervis(96)Swansea Uni 7:50.33  888 
 50m 26.88100m 55.60150m 1:25.27200m 1:55.09250m 2:24.96300m 2:54.68350m 3:24.40400m 3:54.11 
 450m 4:23.79500m 4:53.71550m 5:23.67600m 5:53.66650m 6:23.07700m 6:52.39750m 7:21.87800m 7:50.33 
2.Kieran Bird(99)Bath NC 7:50.75  885 
 50m 27.09100m 56.10150m 1:25.48200m 1:55.42250m 2:25.24300m 2:55.17350m 3:25.09400m 3:54.87 
 450m 4:24.45500m 4:54.25550m 5:24.35600m 5:54.45650m 6:24.33700m 6:54.29750m 7:23.71800m 7:50.75 
3.Luke Turley(00)Bath NC 7:54.27  866 
 50m 27.68100m 57.33150m 1:27.84200m 1:58.37250m 2:28.80300m 2:59.14350m 3:29.43400m 3:59.49 
 450m 4:29.13500m 4:59.02550m 5:28.73600m 5:58.71650m 6:28.53700m 6:57.93750m 7:26.70800m 7:54.27 
4.Tobias Robinson(96)Loughboro NC 7:54.66  864 
 50m 27.20100m 56.17150m 1:25.32200m 1:54.80250m 2:24.26300m 2:53.78350m 3:23.43400m 3:53.24 
 450m 4:23.25500m 4:53.40550m 5:23.66600m 5:54.03650m 6:24.26700m 6:54.75750m 7:25.31800m 7:54.66 

No Instant Ticket But Joe Litchfield In With A Shout As Medley relay Understudy To Greenbank

Joe Litchfield raced inside the Tokyo cut for second place in the 200m medley behind Duncan Scott on Day 1. There was no instant ticket today, either but a 54.04 lifetime best in the 100m backstroke looks set to grant Britain’s 2019 world-title-winning medley relay an understudy for whichever man is in best 100m form come the hour in Tokyo.

The backstroke lead in that race in Gwangju was Luke Greenbank, pre-selected and a touch down on best this week owing to a sprained ankle – not the best of things for a kick-balancing, dolphin-kicking, backstroke ace driving off walls at start and turn. Today, he managed a 54.12, Elliott Clogg third in 54.65:

PlaceNameYoBClub Time  FINA Pt 50
1.Joe Litchfield(98)Loughboro NC 54.04  883 25.98
2.Luke Greenbank(97)Loughboro NC 54.12  879 26.27
3.Elliot Clogg(99)Loughboro NC 54.65  854 26.28

The first final of Day 2 finals were to Leah Crisp, on 8:44.67.

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