British Swimming Has Several Athletes Ready For Breakouts at World Championships
With the World Championships right around the corner, the world’s best swimmers are in the final stages of their preparation for Fukuoka. Racing starts on July 23 and concludes on July 30.
The British Swimming team is comprised of 29 athletes for this year’s meet, with some notable exceptions, namely Adam Peaty and Luke Greenbank. Peaty is taking time out from competing to focus on his mental health and Greenbank did not make the team in the 100 or 200 backstroke. In their absence, the British team will look to its other superstars for podium finishes, including Ben Proud, Tom Dean and Duncan Scott.
The 2024 Olympic Games in Paris are just 12 months away, and Fukuoka represents a great opportunity for some fresh talent to make a breakthrough on the international stage. The British team has placed an emphasis on relays in recent years, and this year proves to be no different, as the squad is made up of an exciting mix of experience and youth. Lesser known names could be in line to benefit from British Swimming’s focus on relays, particularly on the men’s side, with Paris on the horizon.
Take a look at some of the names on the British squad that could break out and surprise the swimming world.
Jacob Peters has been in fine form in 2023, evident by his 50 and 100 butterfly double at the British Championships in April, where he dethroned two of British Swimming’s biggest names in the process – Proud in the 50 and James Guy in the 100. Peters has been a familiar face on the British team in recent years and has now competed at every major international championships, making his Olympic debut in the 100 fly in Tokyo. In 2022, he earned a bronze medal for swimming the heat of the men’s 4×100 medley relay and won a bronze medal at the European Championships later that summer, swimming in the final of the mixed 4×100 medley relay.
Peters, with plenty of experience under his belt, will now seek to make a name for himself on the world stage. In an incredibly competitive field, he has the fourth quickest time in the world this year in the 50 butterfly and the 10th-quickest in the 100 butterfly. The World Championships also represents a chance for Peters to break out of compatriot and Bath Performance Centre teammate James Guy’s shadow, with medal chances up for grabs in the men’s and mixed 4×100 medley relay, with Guy traditionally being a reliable leg on British relays. Fukuoka could be a launchpad to consistently make individual finals and compete for medals at the major international meets, especially as Paris 2024 looms.
Katie Shanahan is a rising star within the British team, making a name for herself in backstroke and individual medley events. After a promising junior career, which saw her win bronze at the 2019 European Juniors, Shanahan has started to prove herself on the senior international stage. The 2022 season marked a breakthrough year, with a pair of bronze medals at the Commonwealth Games for Scotland in the 400 IM and 200 backstroke. She followed that up with a silver in the 200 backstroke at the European Championships.
The women’s 200 backstroke field is incredibly strong with U.S. superstar Regan Smith and Australian Olympic champion Kaylee McKeown headlining. There may be a situation in which there is a race for gold between McKeown and Smith, and a race for the bronze medal. Canadian veteran Kylie Masse and U.S. athlete Rhyan White are standouts for the bronze. Currently, Shanahan’s best stands at 2.07.81 from April’s British Championships. If Shanahan can, however, dip into the 2.05-2.06 range, a spot on the podium is attainable.
In the 400 IM, Freya Colbert edged out Shanahan at the British Championships in April. Both Colbert and Shanahan could spark a surprise and challenge for the podium in Fukuoka. Canadian sensation Summer McIntosh is well clear of the field, with her world record of 4.25.87 from April. The other podium places are far more open and will be hotly contested, and could provide an opening for Colbert or Shanahan to exploit.
Oliver Morgan has had an incredible rise in 2023, securing an impressive hat trick of wins at the British Championships in the 50, 100 and 200 backstroke events, beating out established stars Luke Greenbank and Brodie Williams. Fukuoka will be Morgan’s first senior international competition, and individually he will be racing in the 100 and 200 backstroke.
The University of Birmingham-trained backstroke ace will look to use the World Championships to gain experience and try to cement his place as Great Britain’s backstroker for the men’s 4×100 medley relay, particularly with Paris just 12 months away. If the new look British team is to challenge for a spot on the podium, it will need a big swim on the backstroke leg from Morgan or Cameron Brooker, particularly with the absence of the ever reliable Greenbank and Peaty on the breaststroke leg.