The prelims were all about Great Britain’s loaded 200 breaststroking corps, but backstroker Chris Walker-Hebborn stole the show in the final with the world’s best 100 back time.
The 24-year-old Walker-Hebborn, who won gold at both the Commonwealth Games and the European Champs last summer, crushed a 52.88 to win the 100 back by more than a second. That vaults him past Japan’s Ryosuke Irie for the world lead – those men are the only two to break 53 so far this year. Only three men went 52 in all of 2014 combined.
The aforementioned 200 breast was the night’s closing event, and provided its own fireworks. Rising star Adam Peaty came through with a big win over a tough field, going 2:08.34. Peaty is coming off a breakout summer, though his success last year came much more in the 50- and 100-meter distances. This race proves that Peaty is a force to be reckoned with in all three breaststroking distances, though, as his time sits second in the world.
Andrew Willis was second in 2:08.59, and Ross Murdoch third in 2:08.90. All three men now rank within the world’s top four for the year.
The other top-5 world time came in the other men’s event, the 400 free. In that race, James Guy went 3:44.16, and moves from 5th to 2nd in the world ranks. Second-place Nicholas Grainger was 3:45.89, the 5th-best time in the world.
In the women’s 100 free, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor outlasted Francesca Halsall 53.83 to 54.10 for the win. Meanwhile, Hannah Miley overcame top-seeded Jemma Lowe to win the 200 fly in 2:08.63.