Proud Leads British Invasion Of Antwerp

In an article in the Scotsman before the Flanders Speedo Cup Britain’s Head Coach Bill Furniss expressed the importance of the competition for the British heading into a year that includes the Commonwealth Games and European Championships, “The Flanders Speedo Cup is the first competition of the year and provides a great opportunity for our athletes to compete against some of the top swimmers in Europe,” said Furniss.

“In a year when we have the Commonwealth Games and European Championships it’s good for the team to be competing at a world class level at this stage of their preparations.”

Furniss’s team showed up to race on the first day of the meet in Antwerp, winning 12 of the 16 individual events of the evening. They were not only victorious in the majority of the events, but they swept the medals in the women’s and men’s 50 freestyle, women’s and men’s 100 breaststroke, women’s 400 freestyle, women’s 50 backstroke, women’s 400 IM, women’s 200 freestyle, men’s 100 breaststroke and women’s 200 backstroke.

The British team also broke five meet records which included; Jazz Carlin in the 800 freestyle posting a 8:26.12 breaking Lotte Friis 2012 record of 8:27.93, , Christopher Walker-Hebborn in the 100 back finishing in a time of 54.33 taking down Nick Driebergen‘s 2012 record of 55.36, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor posted a time of 1:58.05 breaking Alena Popchanka‘s 2007 200 freestyle record of 1:59.17, Ben Proud put up a time of 23.69 in the 50 butterly breaking Francois Heersbrandt‘s 2010 record of 23.94 and Georgia Davies put up a 27.80 breaking Lauren Quigley‘s 2012 record of 28.55.

Along with breaking the meet record in the 50 backstroke Davies also broke Gemma Spofforth‘s 2009 British record of 27.92.

The Brits were lead by teenager Ben Proud who took both the 50 freestyle and 50 butterfly. Proud was not too far off his best time in either event posting a 22.55 in the 50 freestyle and 23.69 in the 50 butterfly. The 19 year-old’s best time in the 50 freestyle is 22.01 and the 50 butterfly is 23.10.

Possibly the most impressive swim of the evening was put up by Aimee Willmott who won the 400 IM in a time of 4:33.64 improving her lifetime best time of 4:34.95 by 1.31 seconds. Willmott’s time would have been good enough for seventh in the world in the 2013 season.

Hungarian star Katinka Hosszu had another busy night, which appeared to take a toll on her by the time her final two events came around. Hosszu started the evening finishing second in the 800 freestyle with a time of 8:40.90 just ahead of Eleanor Faulkner who finished third in a time of 8:40.99. She went on to eek out a win in the 200 butterfly putting up a time of 2:09.35 with Jemma Lowe finishing 61 one-hundredths of second behind recording a time of 2:09.96.

In her final two events Hosszu finished outside of the medals touching fourth in the 400 IM recording a time of 4:51.21 and sixth in the 200 backstroke posting a time of 2:17.93.

Winners of other events included Fran Halsall who recorded a time of 24.67 in the 50 freestyle.

Sophie Allen finished just ahead of teammates Molly Renshaw and Danielle Lowe in the 100 breaststroke recording a time of 1:09.34. Renshaw recorded a time of 1:09.44 while Lowe finished third in a time of 1:09.78.

Nicholas Grainger won the men’s 400 freestyle in a time of 3:51. 56 with Robbie Renwick following closely behind recording a 3:51.70.

Ross Murdoch hit the wall first in the men’s 100 breaststroke posting a time of 1:00.13. He was followed by Christopher Steeples who posted a time of 1:00.69 while Adam Peaty finished third in a time of 1:00.73.

Elizabeth Simmonds finished 16 one-hundredths of a second ahead of Lauren Quigley in the women’s 200 backstroke recording a time of 2:11.04. Quigley won her second silver of the evening, finishing second in the 50 backstroke earlier in the eventing, hitting the wall in a time of 2:11.20.

Belgian Louis Croenen took the men’s 200 butterfly in a time of 1:57.82 finishing just ahead of Velimir Stepanovic of Serbia who posted a time of 1:57.96.

Hungarian Laszlo Cseh won the men’s 200 IM in a time of 2:02.01, 53 one-hundredths of a second ahead of Roberto Pavoni who recorded a time of 2:02.54.

In what may have been the most exciing race of the evening the Belgian men swept the medals in the 200 freestyle with only seven one-hundredths of a second separating the top three finishers. Pieter Timmers touched first in a time of 1:48.59, he was followed by Emmanuel Vanluchene who hit the wall in a time of 1:48.65 and Glenn Surgeloose who finished in a time of 1:48.66.

Full results can be found here.





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Interested to see what O’Connor (As I always am) can do at this meet. Altitude seems to work for her, it did in 2013, when she came down and swam some superb times. This 200 Free drop is mighty impressive, she was swimming 2.03 in 2012 and as far as I can remember, had broken two minutes just once before today. Her Freestyle is coming along incredibly quickly right now. Could be in for big times in the 100 Free and 200 IM tomorrow.


O’Connor looks like one to watch for sure, I was very impressed with her progress last year. Also Aimee Wilmott has been very good, I enjoyed her performances in the duel in the pool and she seems to be taking that into the new season. I hope for all who follow British swimming that some brighter times are on the way after the tough couple of years you’ve had recently.


Another British to watch for, and it’s a big ask, but Molly Renshaw in the 200 Breast. dropped a second today in the hundred, needs to drop two and a half seconds to break Balfour’s BR in the two-hundred (2.24) and put herself in Contention for a Commonwealth medal.


Solid times all around! Especially Davies, Wilmott, but too many others to mention. Great to see Carlin posted a good 800 on her “2nd comeback” trail after disappointing 2012-2013. Looks it’s shaping up to be a great fast Commonwealth Games this year.

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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