British Swimming has a rich history in women’s distance freestyle events, most recently in the span of the Olympic years 2008 – 2016. With a drought at the 2020 Olympic Games, however, the nation is eagerly looking to young emerging talent to help fill the void.
Rebecca Adlington broke through with gold in both the 400m and 800m freestyle events at the 2008 Games in Beijing and followed that up with bronze in both events in 2012 in London.
Adlington handed the torch over to Jazz Carlin who also landed on multiple Olympic podiums, capturing silver in both the 400m and 800m freestyle events 4 years later in Rio.
But with both Adlington and Carlin having retired and no immediate replacements for Tokyo, the 2020 Olympic Games came up dry for British women’s distance freestyle. The nation was without representation in the 400m, 800m as well as the newly-added 1500m distant events.
At just 13 years of age, Blockside of the City of Salford Swimming Club raced her way to a new lifetime best and British Age Record in the girls’ 1500m freestyle last month.
Competing at the Lancashire County Age Group Championships, Blocksidge posted a time of 16:35.65, her career-best by over 30 seconds. Entering that meet, the teen’s quickest outing rested at the 17:12.41 she produced last July at the 2022 British Summer Championships.
Blocksidge’s time beat out the previous Age Record for 13-year-olds by nearly 20 seconds. That prior record stood at the 16:54.64 Jessica Thielmann put on the books in 2007. What’s more, Blocksidge’s effort also surpassed the British Age Record for 14-and 15-year-olds as well. Those standards are represented by times of 16:41.34 and 16:37.29, respectively.
With her result, Blocksidge now ranks as the 21st fastest British female of any age in the LCM 1500 freestyle. She would have placed 4th at both the 2022 World Junior Championships and the 2022 European Junior Championships with that performance.
Additional promising women’s distance results came at the British Universities & Colleges (BUCS) Championships which just concluded last weekend.
Competing in the women’s 1500m freestyle there in Sheffield, top two British finishers Lewis and Crisp put up the fastest times Great Britain has seen since 2017.
Lewis of Loughborough got to the wall in a time of 16:28.47 while Bath’s Crisp rounded out the top 3 with a mark of 16:34.64.
Thee pair handily overtook their previous personal bests in the event while also entering the list of all-time national performers.
Entering the meet, Lewis’ PB rested at the 16:43.21 notched in 2020. For Crisp, the Bath swimmer’s 16:38.76 PB from 2019 also bit the dust.
Lewis now ranks as GBR’s 11th fastest performer, putting up the fastest time by a British swimmer since Danielle Huskinson‘s 16:24.33 from 2017.
Eyes will be on these racers this April when the all-important British Swimming Championships take place. The meet represents the sole qualifying opportunity for this summer’s World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. British Swimming has set the automatic qualification time standard at a blistering 15:56.86, a mark only national record holder Carlin has ever beaten.
However, with the trajectory these aforementioned women have demonstrated as of late, it will be exciting to see if at least one of them can at minimum put up a performance strong enough to be deemed worthy of a British Swimming coaching discretionary selection.