Female British Breaststrokers’ World Class Progress

This article is written by and courtesy of Rachael Solway. She is an ex-competitive swimmer currently based in London. She trained at Loughborough University and with British Swimming’s National Training Centre group under Kevin Renshaw before retiring in 2013.

Great Britain has not had a finalist in the 200m Breaststroke since 1984’s Los Angeles Games. The Rio Olympics saw not one, but two British competitors become finalists in this event, with the British record lowered by Molly Renshaw in the semi-finals.

The past Olympic cycle has seen significant improvements in the rankings for Great Britain for this event. Between Beijing and London, GB’s highest placing in 200m Breaststroke jumped just two places; 20th to 18th. Fast forward four years, Rio now sees two British women placed 4th and 6th respectively. Who are these two world class women?

Chloe Tutton has had a storming six months. Bursting onto the scene in April at the 2016 Olympic trials, she won the 200m Breaststroke title with a new British record and a three second personal best. She has since held her form and demonstrated her ability to thrive under pressure – showcased in the Olympic final where she placed 4th. Chloe’s ability to achieve these big drops across a relatively short period of time, as well as her Olympic achievements, is a sign of great potential.

Molly Renshaw has held the mantle for female British Breaststroke since achieving World Championship Selection in 2011 as one of the youngest members of the GB team. Molly maintained a healthy competition with Stacey Tadd (London 2012 Olympian) in the lead up to London 2012, driving each other up the rankings. The London Games were particularly poignant for Renshaw who missed out on selection as a result of a loophole in the British Swimming selection criteria. The emotional and psychological turmoil of her appeal being dismissed by British Swimming could have easily driven Renshaw away from the sport, but she was not perturbed. A new Olympic cycle which saw her move to Loughborough has seen her performance improve consistently. Renshaw’s results in Rio reclaiming her British Record and claiming 6th place in the final – are not only fantastic achievements on a personal level, but also prove a poignant point to British Swimming regarding their decision four years ago.

This leads us onto the question, how have these two women have achieved such progress in a relatively short period of time? The answer lies in their training programmes, both Chloe and Molly are members of very strong training regimes. For Chloe, the strength of the Swim Wales programme has been pivotal. The support which they provide is invaluable; from the pre-Commonwealth warm-weather training camps in Orlando and the Gold Coast (pre-Commonwealths and pre-Rio), to consistent international competition race practice and national camps. The Swim Wales development of elite swimmers across disciplines performing on the world stage is clear to see.

For Molly the story is just as successful. Molly established her foundation and early national (and international) success at Derbyshire’s Derventio eXcel before moving to the Loughborough’s GB National Centre in early 2014. Training under her namesake, Kevin Renshaw who is, by far, one of the most successful GB coaches, surviving the programme is no easy feat. Having trained under Kevin myself, I have seen first-hand what the programme requires of its swimmers; Respect, Trust and Commitment. The endurance focused programme which provides all-encompassing support both in and out of the pool, builds swimmers physically and mentally. Molly has demonstrated strength across both.

Both these women show great promise on the world stage for this event. National dominance across international events has proved hugely beneficial to results in World and Olympic events. With Tutton and Renshaw each striving to wear the National crown for British Breaststroke, the gap between the British and World times may soon be under threat. As Rebecca Adlington and Joanne Jackson, Elizabeth Beisel and Caitlin Leverenz, Michael Jamieson and Andrew Willis, Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte have demonstrated, great things come in pairs. Watch out for these two.

This article is written by and courtesy of Rachael Solway. 

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