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UK F-Teamers Are Back Racing

16 February 2021

Chloe Golding
New York Breakers swimmer Chloe Golding in the Cut Lines Tie Me Tight One Piece

After more than a year of Covid interruptions around the world, elite swimming in the UK is finally back. Over the weekend our very best F-Teamers stepped up to blocks, for the first time in almost 12 months, to race at the Manchester International Swim Meet. The last time most of them pulled on a race suit was at the Edinburgh International Swim Meet in March of 2020. Only a few days later, the UK went into the first of 3 lockdowns, meaning most of the top swimmers have had, at a minimum, a 12-week period of no training. The UK swimming calendar has also been completely empty, so for everyone racing this weekend it felt as exciting as Christmas Day!

Only the most elite swimmers in Britain were selected to compete in Manchester with very strict Covid guidelines in place, as club swimming is still not permitted. Swimmers required a negative Covid test result, had to social distance and wear face masks, and de-fogging of the starting blocks between races were just a few of the safety measures in place. Even though things were a little out of the norm that didn't stop our F-Teamers from posting some very fast times.

The first race of the weekend was the women's 400m Freestyle where Leah Crisp, Mia Slevin and Freya Colbert all progressed through to the final. For Leah Crisp her recent move to Bath is proving worthwhile as she finished second in a time of 4:16.09. She also won the 800m Freestyle, clocking a time of 8:50.74 to dominate the event. Freya Colbert came in third.

After a speedy short course ISL season for team Energy Standard, Imogen Clark proved she has what it takes for a successful long course season too. Her running skills in lockdown seemed to help as she posted her fastest 100m Breastroke time in almost 4 years. Her time of 1:07.83 placed her just behind Sarah Vassey (1:07.76) and Molly Renshaw who won the event with a time of 1:07.38. "It was very difficult to spend 5 months out of the pool. As I'm not based at a national training centre it took me a little longer to gain access to a pool. The last four years have been tough but I'm so happy to be back near my best and swimming long course well too." Imogen also won the 50m Breaststroke to finish up a great weekend.

Harriet West
Harriet West was glad to be back in the pool, making finals in her four events over the weekend

Laura Stephens made light work of the women?s 200m Butterfly event. Finishing very strongly, Laura hit the wall in a time of 2:08.88. Her PB of 2:07.62, that she set at the Edinburgh Swim Meet in 2020, is still the fastest time in the world since Jan 2020, so to be so close to a world leading swim is a phenomenal achievement given the circumstances. "I wasn't sure what to expect at this meet, so I tried to stay focused on the processes I've been working on in training. I've also not had much long course training so I'm really happy with how my 200 went. It was great to be back poolside with some of the other GB swimmers too, even though it felt a bit unfamiliar with all the Covid restrictions and precautions. Now I'm excited to see what the rest of the season will bring!"

Both swimming a sub-60-second 100m Butterfly, Laura just pipped F-teamer Harriet West. Harriet also competed in the 50m Freestyle, Butterfly and Backstroke where she made it to the finals in all of the events.

 Manchester International Swim Meet
Mia Slevin kicked off the first race of the weekend in the 400m Freestyle alongside Leah Crisp and Freya Colbert

Our backstroke girls also had an impressive weekend. Chloe Golding and Honey Osrin fought a close battle. With just 0.3 of a second splitting them in the 100m distance, Honey came out on top in a time of 1:02.18 to finish second, just shy of Olympian and Commonwealth gold medallist, Georgia Davies's 1:01.96. Sophie Freeman finished fifth.

Jocelyn Ulyett was part of a very fast 200m Breaststroke line up. NY Breaker Molly Renshaw won the race setting a new British record ahead of Jocelyn who came in third with a time of 2:25.26. Jocelyn also had a strong 100m Breaststroke race on day 2.

Sophie Freeman had a busy weekend blowing away the cobwebs, as she competed in all 3 Butterfly events, the women's 50m and 100m Backstroke as well as the 50m Freestyle. She swam her fastest 100m Butterfly in 2 years in the heats with a time of 1:01.08. Ciara Schlosshan battled against Sophie in the 100m Butterfly heats where she just missed out on the final. She also competed in the 200m Butterfly where she swam a time of 2:11.92 to finish an impressive third.

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