BUCS Long Course Swimming Championships.
Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield.
Friday 21st - Sunday 23rd February.
With 1139 swimmers and 84 Universities competing at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, the highly anticipated BUCS Long Course Swimming Championships is the biggest event this Gatorade Nationals weekend.
The Short Course Championships (6th - 8th December 2013) saw 2 World Records and 21 BUCS Records broken - an incredible achievement, but can the swimmers better that this weekend?
All eyes will be on Loughborough’s Top Short Course Male Swimmer Adam Barrett who broke 4 BUCS records in December. However do not discount his Loughborough team mates Emma Wilkins and Sophie Smith who also broke 5 BUCS records between them, and will be looking to challenge his record haul.
On Friday the 2014 Long Course Championships kick off with the Women’s 800m Freestyle. Ellie Faulkner (Sheffield Hallam), 2013 Top Female Short Course Swimmer and BUCS record holder, will be looking to retain her Long Course title in her 2012 Olympic event. In the 1500m Freestyle later that session, Daniel Fogg (British Swimming) is the only qualifier sub 15 minutes, but Stephen Milne (Highlands) and Jack Burnell of Derby are entered close behind and only 0.02 seconds apart. In December Burnell broke the BUCS Short Course record in 14.50.29 so this heat declared event will be undeniably close.
Reigning champion and BUCS Short Course record holder Rebecca Turner (Sheffield Hallam) will be looking for gold in the 200m Freestyle, ahead of Caitlin McClatchey (Edinburgh) and Ellie Faulkner (Sheffield Hallam). Shortly followed by the 50m Backstroke and Breaststroke sprints, look out for World Record Holder Liam Tancock (British Swimming) and Olympian Georgia Davies (British Swimming) seeded fastest in the Backstroke.
The rivalry between Kathryn Johnstone (Heriot Watt) and Andrea Strachan (Edinburgh) is set to be reignited in the 50m Breaststroke, following 2 consecutive meets of the two taking first and second in the 50m & 100m Breaststroke.
We close Session 2 on Saturday morning with the 400m IM. Aimee Willmott (Teesside), English Record holder and Bronze medallist at the European Short Course 2013, is an unbelievable 9 seconds ahead of the rest of the field on paper. Whilst in the Men’s, Matthew Johnson (Bath) will look to take the double after his Short Course Championship win in December.
Session 3’s highlight is the splash and dash, let’s see who are the fastest men and women over 50m! Emma Wilkins (Loughborough), reigning Champion and Short Course record holder, will have stiff competition from previous silver and bronze medallists Rebecca Guy (Manchester) and Sian Harkin (Stirling). The fastest seeded men in the pool, Benjamin Proud (St Mark & St John), Richard Schafers (Edinburgh) and Short Course record holder Andrew Weatheritt (Loughborough) will no doubt fight all the way to the finish.
The Women’s 200m Breaststroke heats will see some exceptional swimming with Molly Renshaw, Danielle Lowe and Sophie Allen (all British Swimming). Close behind and looking to make their way into the medals will be last year’s silver medallist Kathryn Johnstone (Heriot Watt) and Aimee Willmott (Teesside).
It will be a close race in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke with Andrew Willis (Bath) and Laurent Carnol (Loughborough) searching for gold, but we’ll look to Willis, Olympic finalist and BUCS Short Course record holder to see what he can pull out the bag.
Moving into Sunday and the final day of competition, session 5 kicks off with the Women’s 200m Butterfly. Watch out for Eleni Papadopoulos (University of Manchester) who set a World Para-Swimming record in the S10 category at Short Course in an incredible time of 2:14.36.
The 100m Freestyle sees Grant Turner (British Swimming), Benjamin Proud (St Mark & St John) and Loughborough’s Adam Barrett all entered sub 50s, and is set up for an exciting race for medals between Proud (British Championships Bronze medallist) and Barrett (BUCS Short Course record holder).
In the Women’s 200m IM, Short Course Record holder, Sophie Smith (Loughborough) will be vying for a medal ahead of Short Course medallists Emily Jones (Edinburgh) and Alice Tennant (Swansea).
Closing the individual races for the meet, the Women’s 100m Backstroke will be a tantalizing race between Kathryn Willis (Loughborough) and Charlotte Bryan (Swansea) for gold. Whilst the Men’s event will see Chris Walker Hebborn (British Swimming) pitted against Sunderland’s Jonathan Carlisle and Loughborough’s Sam Straughan who are fastest on paper, but you cannot discount Ryan Bennett (Stirling), Short Course record holder in the 200m and reigning champion.
To finish the 2014 BUCS Long Course Swimming Championships as part of the BUCS Gatorade Nationals, we get to witness the intense and electric 4x100m Medley Relays. Loughborough dominated at Short Course, but the Men’s reigning champions Stirling will not give up without a fight.
And so 70 events, 6 sessions and 3 days later, the Top Male, Female and University Performances will be awarded. Loughborough will be expecting to take top spot once again, but who else can come close?