Tokyo 2020: Swimming for gold

It’s only taken five years, but I can finally say...Olympic swimming is back!

With the likes of Rebecca Adlington setting up the future of swimming in Great Britain with her impressive gold in the 800m Freestyle in Beijing, a new wave of medal winners was inspired. And with it comes the undeniably impressive roster of women that make up Team GB’s Tokyo 2020 swim team.

Here I will highlight some of the incredible talent representing Team GB in swimming, and the swimming events taking place this summer.

Kathleen Dawson

In what is gearing up to be one of the most exciting races of this summer’s Olympics, Team GB’s Kathleen Dawson is in no doubt a strong contender for a podium spot in the 100m Backstroke. At this year’s 2020 European Championships, Dawson shocked the swimming world. Not only did she break both the Championship record and European record, but she managed to achieve gold in the 100m Backstroke, not once, but twice. Yes, TWICE!

After a faulty starting block caused Sweden’s Sophie Hansson to appeal for the final to be re-swum, Dawson showed no sign of fear, hoping straight back into the pool in a controlled swim to reclaim her title and once again win gold. Setting the European Record in a new PB of 58.08 in the first leg of the women’s 4x100 Medley Team at the meet, Dawson goes into the Olympics as the projected fourth seed. She sits only behind current world record holder Kaylee McKeown (AUS), and previous world record holders Regan Smith (USA) and Kylie Masse (CAN). But with mere milliseconds between the swimmers, Dawson is sure to make some waves.

Molly Renshaw

When you think of breaststrokers for Team GB, one name usually comes straight to mind – Olympic, World, European, Commonwealth Champion and World Record holder, Adam Peaty.

However, don’t count out Loughborough’s Molly Renshaw. The European Champion claimed victory at British trials in a time of 2.20.89, which is the second fastest time this year and places her as the projected third seed leading into the Games.

Dropping the 100m Breaststroke from her Olympic schedule to focus on the 200m Breast, Molly is clearly hoping for big things and her mantra of ‘be brave’ highlights just how fast she’s going to be.

Abbie Wood

Joining Molly in the 200m Breaststroke is partner in crime Abbie Wood. Also based in Loughborough and Renshaw’s training partner, Wood goes into the 200 Breast, maybe not as a favourite but definitely looking to book a spot in the final. But never fear, Wood has made her mark this season and will be a shining star of the 200m Individual Medley. Setting a PB and her sights on Siobhan Marie O’Connor’s current Commonwealth and British Record, Wood goes into the Games 6th with a time of 2.09.23 and is still a confirmed favourite of the race.

Freya Anderson

She’s tall, she’s young and she’s very very fast. Freya Anderson is one the greatest emerging British athletes, excelling over the past few years. Her fierce race strategy is often critiqued, taking out the first half easy and reeling her opponents back in during the last 50m. However, if you’re thinking that there’s no chance that she will make a comeback, I implore you to pay attention to her last 10m because this woman will show you superhuman things.

Swimming her favoured 200m Freestyle and 100m Freestyle, Freya is one of Team GB’s best freestylers and relay swimmers. She’ll fight to the end so watch your back!

Anna Hopkin

Our other Freestyle hopeful, Anna Hopkin or The Pocket Rocket, is a master of speed. Standing up against her fellow 50m and 100m Freestyle competitors she may look small, but her efficient straight arm Free technique powers her stroke forward in ways others could only dream of.

Anna will also be an integral part of Team GB’s relays. Although, it isn’t quite sure whether her or Anderson will be the final leg of the women’s 4x100 Medley team. They’ll have to fight that one out on their own.

📸: Anna Hopkins

Swimming events

4x100 Medley

I love this event. And I love it even more so knowing that Team GB are the recent European Champions!

Consisting of 100m of each stroke swum by the fastest combination of 4 swimmers, GB will have their hands full against USA, Australia, Canada and Japan. With a likely selection of Dawson – Jones – Renshaw – Hopkin (although the last 3 legs could be widely different with the number of fast swimmers we have), the added benefit of being the last event on the schedule makes this relay maybe the most exciting of them all!

4x100 Free Relay

The women’s relay that has a longer shot at a medal, the 4x100 Free Relay will still be a jam-packed event, with a line-up of Hopkin and Anderson, alongside Hope and Wood. But even if we don’t see GB on the podium, this race is certain to be fast. Be ready to see the USA and Australia dominate with their packed teams of World and Olympic champions such as the Campbell sisters, Abbie Weitzel and Olivia Smoliga.

4x200 Free Relay

Get ready for a rant. Team GB have not entered a women’s 4x200 free relay team for the Games this year, despite the fact that the team is, again, European Champions!

I suspect it’s down to conflicts in scheduling and not wanting to load the athletes with too many events. But these women have worked hard for the last few months to make the consideration time they were out of. To come from underdogs to European Champions overnight and stun the world, they deserve to show their hard work!

With the men’s team likely to dominate this event, I was super excited to see what the women would do against the rest of the world. I can only dream.

📸: Team GB swimming

Team GB Women’s Swimming:

Cassie Wild – 100m and 200m Backstroke

Aimee Wilmott – 400m Individual Medley

Laura Stephens – 200m Butterfly and 4x100 Medley Relay

Sarah Vasey – 100m Breaststroke and 4x100 Medley Relay

Alys Thomas – 200m Butterfly

Harriet Jones – 100m Butterfly and 4x100 Medley Relay

Alicia Wilson – 200m Individual Medley

Lucy Hope – 4x100 Free Relay

Ready to bring home the silverware, the women are here and they’re here to dominate!

Stronger Together.

Keep up to date with all things swimming at Tokyo 2020 here.

- Megan Armitage

Thanks for reading 💚

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