By Anna Cheesbrough
The European Championships held at the London Aquatics Centre saw Loughborough Swimmers take on the rest of Europe in seven days of tough competition.
Loughborough-based Adam Peaty, World Record holder in the 50m and 100m breaststroke events, stormed the semi-finals of the 100m breaststroke on the first night to secure a safe place in the final.
Sprint specialist, Fran Halsall, touched ahead of World Record holder, Sarah Sjoestroem, to lead the 50m butterfly semi-finals and progress through to the final.
Charlotte Evans made her first senior international debut finishing fifteenth in the semi-finals of the 200m backstroke (2:13.15).
On day two, Loughborough swimmers brought back a haul of medals after Halsall and Peaty won bronze and gold medals in the women’s 50m butterfly (25.48) and men’s 100m breaststroke (58.36), respectively.
Georgia Davies led off the 4x100m mixed medley relay in the heats, in which Great Britain currently holds the World Record, securing Britain a middle lane for the final. Halsall and Peaty then teamed together for the final, with a strong freestyle leg from Halsall, to hold back the Italians and finish on top of the podium.
Commonwealth medallist Molly Renshaw placed seventh in a very close 100m breaststroke (1:07.93) final on the third day, and Davies advanced from the semi-finals to the finals in the 100m backstroke.
Davies improved her placing from seventh in the semi-finals to fifth in the final of the 100m backstroke (59.99) on the fourth day of the European Championships. Meanwhile, Renshaw swam a solid 200m breaststroke semi-final to secure herself a place in the final.
The fifth evening saw two English Records broken from two of Kevin Renshaw’s swimmers. Fresher and first-time Olympic qualifier, Tim Shuttleworth, finished fifth in the 800m freestyle in a new English Record (7:50.52).
The second English Record came from Renshaw in the 200m breaststroke (2:23.18), finishing only just outside of the medals in fourth place.
Exciting performances in the semi-finals of the sprint events came from Halsall and Davies (both coached by Loughborough Hall of Fame legend, James Gibson), finishing second and third (respectively) ahead of the finals in the 50m backstroke, whilst Peaty dominated the field in the 50m breaststroke.
Halsall was on great form for the penultimate day of the Championships, winning the 50m backstroke (27.57) with a Championship Record and English Record, ahead of teammate and British Record holder Davies who took the bronze (27.87).
Halsall also led the semi-finals of the 50m freestyle. Peaty, coached by former Loughborough swimmer Mel Marshall, took gold in the 50m breaststroke (26.66) – just shy of the Championship Record he set two years ago in Berlin.
Halsall and Peaty concluded the championships with medley relay golds, right after Halsall picked up a silver medal in the 50m freestyle (24.44).
Overall, Loughborough swimmers (including Loughborough-based Adam Peaty) brought home 7 golds, 1 silver, and 2 bronze medals, with three English Records and two Championship Records being broken.
Loughborough Swimming is on the Road to Rio!