Glorious golden double on opening night in Otopeni – British Swimming

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5 Dec 2023
Britain enjoyed a golden start to the European Short Course Championships in Romania as Abbie Wood and the Men’s 4x50m Freestyle Relay team delivered two European titles – with Freya Colbert and the women’s relay quartet providing more day one silverware.
In the final action of the first evening session, the foursome of Ben Proud, Matt Richards, Alex Cohoon and Lewis Burras combined in devastating fashion to secure the top step of the Otopeni podium, smashing by more than a second the British record that had only been reset in the morning’s heats, when Duncan Scott had played his part in getting the team qualified. 
After Proud’s characteristically-strong start put Britain in front, Richards – thanks in part to some superb underwaters – strengthened the British lead, with senior GB debutant Cohoon showing great arena composure to deliver his leg well and protect the lead. 
It was then over to Burras to set the fastest split of the entire race and complete a victory in 1:22.52.
“Growing in the sport, when I was 11 or 12, all I wanted to do was make a national time. So 12-13 years later, hearing your national anthem being played, for a performance you have been part of, it’s a moment to remember. I don’t know if I’ll get that moment again, so I really wanted to savour that one,” said Lewis.
Double world champion Matt added: “It was a great job from the boys tonight. To see four British lads all go sub 21 is something we’ve never seen and it shows the depth we’ve got. Year on year on year, we’re just getting stronger and stronger. It’s phenomenal and it bodes really well for the relays for the rest of the week.”
As well as closing the night in style, the British team raised the curtain in memorable fashion, as Wood and Colbert combined for a brilliant gold-silver double in the Women’s 400m Individual Medley.
The Loughborough Performance Centre teammates, who both train under coach David Hemmings, delivered on their favoured strokes, with Colbert taking charge after a strong backstroke leg to sit ahead at halfway.
But Wood answered back brilliantly across the 100m of breaststroke, those four laps proving crucial as she overtook her training partner and then defended her position with a controlled freestyle finish, touching the wall to claim her maiden senior individual title on the international stage.
Colbert followed her into the wall for the silver to fully kickstart the British medal tally, while a shout out goes to Katie Shanahan, who was third-fastest overall in the heats but did not progress as she placed behind Colbert and Wood in the two-per-nation rule.
Reflecting on her victory, Abbie said: “That’s my first senior international individual title, so I can’t be mad at that at all! It’s getting my week off to a good start as well.
“I wish I’d had more confidence going into that race, but I’m really glad I pulled it out in the end, so I’m really happy.”
Freya added: “I’m really happy. It’s great to be up there with Abbie, I love racing her as teammates. I would’ve liked to be up on the top, but it wasn’t to be today!” 
In the Women’s 4x50m Freestyle Relay, the quartet of Anna Hopkin, Freya Anderson, Lucy Hope and Medi Harris teamed up across both heat and final to get their place on the podium with a brilliant bronze. 
While the order was switched slightly from morning to evening – with the aforementioned rota selected for the key final swim – there was no difference in quality, as athletes that have begun to gain valuable relay experience together over recent seasons again shone on the international stage.
Lucy said: “I’m really happy to come third with the girls. The 4x50m is a bit unusual for us, it’s perhaps a bit short maybe, but really fun to get in there and kick things off with the relay.”
Freya added: “It was a good result. I wasn’t too happy with my own performance but that doesn’t matter, the team got on the podium which was the important thing and it’s a nice way to cap off this first training block of the Olympic cycle. It’s a great place to race (here in Romania) and also train.”
Other results 
Women’s 50m Freestyle
Anna Hopkin – third into final
Men’s 400m Freestyle
Tom Dean – ninth
Joe Litchfield – 12th
Jack McMillan – 15th
Evan Jones – 22nd
Men’s 50m Backstroke
Oliver Morgan – ninth
Jonathon Adam – 13th
Cameron Brooker – 15th
Brodie Williams – 26th
Women’s 100m Breaststroke
Imogen Clark – eighth into final
Kara Hanlon – 11th
Leah Schlosshan – 19th
Men’s 100m Butterfly 
Jacob Peters – fourth into final
James Guy – sixth into final
Full results and information on how you can watch every single session from Otopeni 2023 is available on our ‘What’s On?’ page
Jacob Peters produced a lifetime best in the Men's 100m Butterfly European Short Course final – claiming his first ever individual international bronze, before helping the British Men's 4x50m Medley relay team to a stunning silver later in the session.
Find out all the details on how to tune into live coverage of the European Short Course Championships 2023 in Otopeni, along with results, reports and daily schedules.
A 35-strong British Swimming team is all set to bring the curtain down on a memorable 2023 when they dive into six days of action at the European Short Course Championships in Bucharest, Romania, starting tomorrow (Tuesday 5th December) – with Olympic year now just around the corner.

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