Ben Proud Becomes First Brit to Win Gold in the Men’s 50 Free (Euro Recap Day 7)


Using his explosive start to get out ahead of the field, Ben Proud hung on for the win in the men’s 50 free with a time of 21.32. With the swim, he becomes the first British man to strike gold in the event at the World Championships. It’s also Great Britain’s first gold at these Worlds.

After his race, Proud said that “before I came here, if someone said I’d go home as a world champion, I’d laugh out loud. I’m so grateful who helped me at home and from home, it was a huge comeback after the Olympics for me…this day is simply amazing.” In Tokyo, Proud tied for fifth in this event with Kristian Gkolomeev in 21.72. That was well off his lifetime-best 21.11, which he swam in 2018 and makes him the second-fastest textile performer in history.

At 2017 Worlds in the same arena, Proud won bronze, touching behind Caeleb Dressel and Bruno Fratus in 21.43. At that same meet, he earned his first long course World title with a win in the 50 fly.

The only other British medalist in the event over 19 editions of Worlds is Mark Foster. Foster claimed the silver medal at the 2003 Worlds in Barcelona.

Interestingly, Proud is also only the third European to win the world championship title. Russia’s Alexander Popov won in 1994 and 2003, while Florent Manaudou took the event in 2015. Manaudou competed this year as well, but finished 11th with a 21.95 and failed to make the final.

Proud is coming off a successful short course season. At SC Worlds, he broke his 50 free British record in 20.40 before going on to win the title in 20.45.

At this meet, Proud came within a hundredth of his British Record in the 50 fly, clocking 22.76. Like the 50 free, he was the top qualifier coming into the final, but ultimately finished seventh in 23.08. However, his showing in the semifinals combined with his gold medal in the 50 prove that, like he said, he’s successfully rebounded after a disappointing Olympics.

Quick Hits

Other National Records Set on Day 7

  • In heats, Daniel Wiffen become the first Irish man under 15 minutes in the 1500 free. He posted 14:57.66, knocking about five seconds off the mark he set in April. He has now taken more than 22 seconds off the record since when he originally claimed it in December 2020.
  • Kasia Wasick swam 24.11 to lower her Polish record in the 50 free semis by .06. She qualified as the top seed for tomorrow night’s final, becoming the first Polish woman to make a Worlds final in the event.
  • Greece’s Apostolos Christou cracked his own national record in the 50 back, which stood at 24.49. Tonight, he swam 24.39 to qualify for the final in third.
  • Ksawery Masiuk broke his own Polish record in the 50 back twice today. In prelims, he swam 24.64 to undercut his record of 24.68, which he had just set in May. Then in the semis, he got under that in 24.48.
  • 15-year-old Eneli Jefimova crushed the Estonian record in the 50 breast with a 30.08 in heats. She owned the previous record, a 30.69 that she set in May.
  • Ole Braunschweig broke Helge Meeuws super-suited German record of 24.59, shaving .01 seconds off to establish a new record of 24.58.
  • Kalia Antoniou became the first Cypriot woman under 25 seconds in the 50 free, lowering her own national record of 25.14 from heats with a 24.94 in semifinals.

European Medal Table Through Day 7

Gold Silver Bronze Total Medals
Italy 3 1 2 6
France 2 4 2 8
Romania 2 0 0 2
Hungary 2 0 0 2
Great Britain 1 1 2 4
Sweden 1 2 0 3
Germany 0 2 0 2
Netherlands 0 1 1 2
Lithuania 0 0 1 1
Ukraine 0 0 1 1

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Lex Soft
9 months ago

I am glad that you mentioned Mark Foster. I like watching his stroke, very similar to Alexander Popov, both above and under water.

9 months ago

Good stuff Ben!!

9 months ago

France is having a much bigger meet than anyone expected, the number of finals they were a part of is staggering to say the least after they fared so poorly in Tokyo (with only one medal, Flo’s silver). It’s really promising, France might very well be back on tracks for great 2024 games at home

Reply to  CasualSwimmer
9 months ago

The incredible 2004-2015 era blurs the judgement of Tokyo’s record a bit. On the scale of the history of French swimming, the results of last year’s Games were far from being shameful with a young generation that was beginning to emerge and a nice medal for Flo. In the 70’s and in Atlanta 1996, France would have signed for such a result.
For me, Rio 2016 was a disappointment, Tokyo 2021 a first step towards a more glorious future.

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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