The British Swimming Championships took place in Manchester this month from the 5th to the 12th with Loughborough boasting an incredible team of over 40 swimmers out to claim national titles and world championship qualification.
The main highlight came from Fran Halsall who returned from surgery to claim gold in the 100m freestyle, 50m freestyle and silver in the 100m butterfly. These results have booked her a place at the World championships in Shanghai later this summer.
Meanwhile, Liam Tancock continued his gold-winning habit to take the 50m and 100m backstroke events and produced a new world leading time to send a strong message for what his season could have in store.
Loughborough’s early successes seemed contagious, with over 25 podium finishes and many swimmers achieving personal bests throughout the week.
Day 1 one saw Daniel Fogg and Jo Jackson narrowly miss out on medals as they each took 4th place spots. Fogg fought well in the 400m but was unable to clinch a medal however his form showed promise for the week. Meanwhile Jackson, whilst finishing below her lifetime best, produced an encouraging performance having suffered setbacks through illness that saw her form drop.
Halsall entered the party on day 2 as she took an emotional 2nd place in the 100m butterfly whilst fellow Loughborough swimmer Tilly Gray swam a lifetime best in 1:00.88 to finish 6th. James Doolan missed out on a higher placing in the 50m as he took bronze, whilst earlier in the day Aisha Thornton went under 17minutes for the first time in the heats of the 1500m.
Day 3 saw double gold for Loughborough as Liam Tancock and Ross Davenport both took top honours.
Tancock was joined in the final by fellow Loughborough swimmers Luke Wood and Scott Hathaway who finished in 4th and 6th respectively, as he set a blistering pace to take the gold. Davenport breezed through the 200m with 1:48.34 to give him a place in the World Championship team. Making her debut in a national final, Aisha Thornton took 7th place in the 1500m.
Notable performances next came from Joseph Roebuck who took silver in the 200m freestyle and produce a lifetime best to swim in 1:56.67 on Tuesday.
Roebuck continued his fine form on day 5 to win his second silver, this time in the 200m butterfly and record the world’s 3rd fastest time in the process. Both his performances have given Roebuck world championship qualification.
Grant Tuner also claimed a podium finish as he narrowly missed out on gold having led for the majority of the race. Elsewhere in the qualification rounds Robert Pavoni and Joe Canlan Shaw produced personal bests in the 200m backstroke, whilst James Broady clocked a lifetime best of 2.16.75 in the semi-final of the 200m breaststroke.
Day 6 saw the return of Fran Halsall to the medals as she took gold in the 100m freestyle. It was a close race between Halsall and fellow Loughborough swimmer Amy Smith that came down to the final strokes where Halsall managed to clinch the top spot just 0.03 ahead of Smith. Kate Hutchinson then took bronze in the 200m breaststroke with a brilliant swim.
With the championships entering the final two days Loughborough’s team were still producing some fantastic results. Lizzie Simmonds claimed another silver medal in the 200m backstroke, though unfortunately her time was outside the qualifying mark for the world championships.
Simmonds will have another chance to qualify in June however. In the same race Rachel Lefley gave a strong performance to come in 4th which will greatly help her chances at being selected for the world student games.
The final night saw yet more Loughborough success and some seriously fast swimming. Robert Pavoni set the scene for the evening as he took gold in the 400m IM. It was a fiercely fought race with Joseph Roebuck pressing hard and taking 2nd place less than a second behind.
Both Pavoni and Roebuck produced lifetime bests and sealed world championship qualification.
Up next was a re-match between Halsall and Smith in the 50m freestyle. With Smith having topped the field in the semi-finals it was another close race however it was Fran Halsall who took the gold with Smith settling for silver.
Not to be left out of the gold rush, Liam Tancock took another medal in the 50m backstroke in world class style. Loughborough swimmers continued to perform well with Luke Wood and Scott Hathaway finishing in 3rd and 4th place respectively.
To finish the championships both Daniel Fogg (1500m) and Kate Hutchinson (400m IM) took silver medals in qualifying times to bring the medal total for the final day to 8!
Overall it was a fantastic effort by all the swimmers. With personal bests, championship times and even world leading times being produced it shows how talented the pool of athletes involved in Loughborough swimming is.
To see some of these athletes for yourself come down to the pool on the 19th March for the BUCS finals.
LSUTV will be broadcasting the BUCS Swimming Championships live at www.lufbra.net/LSUTV this Saturday afternoon