Richards & Guy Make 200 Free Gold-Silver Punches A British Habit In Popovici’s Den;

2023-12-09 Reading Time: 4 minutes
(l-r) Tom Dean, Matt Richards and James Guy yell Duncan Scott home - by Simone Castrovillari, courtesy of Speedo
(l-r) Tom Dean, Matt Richards and James Guy yell Duncan Scott home - by Simone Castrovillari, courtesy of Speedo

Matt Richards and James Guy became the latest Brit 200m freestyle aces to make gold-silver punches a habit for Britain’s Olympic-champion 4x200m freestyle crew 0.11sec apart at the helm of a four-way battle in David Popovici‘s Romanian den on day 5 at the European short-course Championships.

It came down to racing on the day, one that featured three golds for Britain by the close of play. Abbie Wood‘s victory in the 200m medley was followed by a championship record for Ben Proud, Lewis Burras, Anna Hopkin and Freya Anderson in the mixed 4x50m freestyle.

In the 200m freestyle fight, Richards had a ‘1’ next to his name after three splits of the eight-lap races, including the 50, 75m marks and the decisive 12.55 home-comer. Guy had a ‘1’ by his name on two of the laps, at 100 and 125m.

The two Brits were teammates at Bath and are now training partners at Millfield under the guidance of coach Ryan Livingstone and former international and director of swimming Euan Dale.

Danas Rapsys, of Lithuania, led at 150 and 175m turns, and Popovici at 25m, on the way to finishing in that border, Rapsys 0.03sec shy of Guy on 1:41.15, Popovici locked out on 1:41.52.

Great race, and one that delivered yet another 1-2 finish for the British 4x200m Olympic champions, after Tom Dean and Duncan Scott at the Tokyo Olympics and Richards and Dean at the 2023 World long-course Championships back in July. Dean (2021, OG), Guy (2015 W) Richards (2023 W) have all claimed gold in the deepest global waters over 200m, while Scott’s silver in Tokyo made him the most medalled Brit at any single Olympic Games ever in Tokyo, with gold (4x200m) and three silvers (200IM and 4x100m medley).

Duncan Scott – by Ian MacNicol, courtesy of Scottish Swimming

There was no getting to Scott’s 1:40.25 British record the day after he scorched a 1:50.9 medley for gold, the meet in Otopeni, Bucharest, a moment to race, to feel, to get the flavour of while still preparing for bigger moments to come. Short-course meets are part of the dress rehearsal of championship environments, routines, skill and mindset tests for challenges to come.

Two of those await at least four of the best men Britain and the world has over 200m freestyle: Britain’s Olympic trials in London in April and then the Paris Olympic Games in July, when only two of the four heroes will get to battle for solo honours.

Emerging from battle today, Richards said through British Swimming:

Matt Richards, by Georgie Kerr, courtesy of British Swimming

“I’m over the moon with that. It’s a great result to try and build that momentum on from Worlds into short-course. I’m definitely better long-course so this is all a challenge and a learning experience to refine some of my skills, but I’m over the moon to come out on top. So, so pleased to see Jim on the podium as well.

“In sport one minute you can be on top of the world and the next you can be nowhere so it’s one of those where I’m trying to enjoy the journey and every day as it comes. I’ve a fantastic team around me, which makes it so much more fun and enjoyable and hopefully we can keep building on this momentum going into Paris. There’s so much more that I want to do and want to achieve.”

Matt Richards. Image: Matt Richards at his debut Olympic trials in 2021, by Georgie Kerr, courtesy of British Swimming

Guy, blocked from the Olympic podium in 2016 by Sun Yang*, a swimmer who had tested positive for a banned substance and was heading for a second controversy that would land him a four-year and three months ban, looked back down the years and noted:

James Guy of Great Britain jubilates after winning the men's 200m Freestyle Final while Ryan Lochte (R) of the United States of America (USA) finishes 4th during the FINA Swimming World Championships at Kazan arena in Kazan, Russia, 4 August 2015.

“To get an individual podium is amazing. I’ve waited for a long time for it to happen. The last time I did a 200m free and got a medal was 2016, so seven years is a long time. Never give in! Things happen in life but don’t give up. I’m 28 and still PB’ing [personal best] and I’m happy with what I’m doing so bring on next year.”

Image: James Guy the Man, at 19 a world champion – by Patrick B. Kraemer

How the Richards Guy 1-2 unfolded:

Championship Results In Full / Livestream and meet details

Men 50m Butterfly: Noe Ponti Makes It A ‘Fly Triple Just 0.04sec shy of the World Record

Noe Ponti, the Olympic 100m bronze medalist from Switzerland, added the dash crown to his win in the 100 and 200m in Otopeni this week, his 21.79 rattling the shared World and European record of 21.75. The co-owner of the global mark (with Santos of Brazil) and sole setter fo the continental standard, Hungarian Szebasztian Szabo, took silver in 21.96, France’s Maxine Grousset third in 22.06, with Britain’s Jacob Peters just 0.04sec away.

Women’s 200m medley: Wood From Go To Gold In 2:05.58, Bonnet, Kruendl In The Prizes

Abbie Wood added to Britain’s delight with a 2:05.58 win a second ahead of France’s Charlotte Bonnet and Austria’s Lena Kreundl, Britain’s second challenger Katie Shanahan just locked out of the prizes.

Wood led on every single length, Kreundl second on all laps barring the last, when 200m free ace Bonnet came sizzling up from 2seconds down on the leader and a second down on the Austrian at the last turn.

Said Wood through British Swimming: “I think I should have backed myself more coming into this meet because it’s been amazing. It’s been tough doing the IM double but I’m really proud”

Mixed 4×50 Free: Britain Celebrate Third Gold On The Day In Championship Record

GB’s Euro S/C Mixed 4×50 Free Champs (l-r): Anna Hopkin, Freya Anderson, Lewis Burras and Ben Proud, Courtesy, British Swimming

In a battle with Italy, Great Britain celebrated a third gold on the day in a Championship record of 1:27.75 , just 0.42sec shy of the France’s World record from a year ago. Italy took silver in 1:28.28, France third in 1:28.35.

Ben Proud and a 20.39 blast up front, Lewis Burras, Anna Hopkin, on 22.95, and Freya Anderson had the edge over the Italians every stroke of the way:

Women 100m Backstroke: Toussaint Takes It With Harris & Moluh In The Medals

Men 200 breast: Corbeau’s First Crown Ahead Of McKee, Kamminga Delivering Dutch 1-3

Women 100m Butterfly: Hansson Pips Kohler, Ntountounaki Completing The 55s

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