Pictured above: Emily Wood, Emily Ford, Maia Little, Tash Fenton, Connor Bryan, Callum Smart, Toby Mackay-Champion and David Murphy
The British Swimming Championships is the highlight of the national events calendar. As British Swimming enters a new Olympic cycle, athletes who shone at Rio 2016 took to the pool again for the title of British Champion, as well as there being a new focus on the next generation of athletes to rise to the challenge.
City of Oxford Swimming Club had eight qualifiers competing at this year’s event which took place from April 18-23rd at the Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, Sheffield. Emily Wood, Emily Ford, Maia Little, Tash Fenton, Connor Bryan, Callum Smart, Toby Mackay-Champion and David Murphy competed across 17 events, 16 breaststroke and 1 butterfly! The whole event was live streamed and viewers / supporters watched the Oxford swimmers racing alongside Adam Peaty MBE, Ross Murdoch and a host of established and up and coming swimmers.
City competed over four of the six days, with the morning heats allowing swimmers to qualify for one of three finals; the junior final for boys 18 years and under and girls 17 years and under; the Target Tokyo final for males born 1996-1998 and females born 1997-1999; and the open final for the eight fastest swimmers overall.
Day one saw outstanding success for David Murphy, Connor Bryan and Callum Smart in the 100m breaststroke, with all three qualifying for the evening finals session. The junior final saw Smart finish in first place with a personal best (pb) time of 1.03.01 and Bryan finishing seventh in another personal best time of 1.04.19 (within 1% of the Welsh consideration time for the Commonwealth Youth Games). Murphy made it into his first major open final alongside Olympic champion Adam Peaty of Loughborough University. Seeded eighth in the final, Murphy had an amazing swim and finished seventh in a time of 1.02.00.
Both the girls and boys of the City of Oxford were in the pool on day two of the championships, with Maia Little, Tash Fenton and Emily Wood competing n the 200m breaststroke, Emily Ford in the 50m butterfly and Connor Bryan and David Murphy in the 50m breaststroke. The heats saw a PB for Bryan with a time of 30.28 and Target Tokyo finals for Wood and Murphy who both finished second with times of 2.32.04 and 28.64 respectively. Little, Fenton and Ford put in strong heat swims with times of 2.42.57, 2.39.89 and 29.27.
The boys’ 200m breaststroke was the event for day four of the championships. City’s Connor Bryan, Callum Smart, Toby Mackay-Champion and David Murphy pushed hard through the heats and all four qualified either for the Junior or Target Tokyo finals. Mackay-Champion won the Target Tokyo final with a PB time of 2.15.93, closely followed by Murphy in third position in a time of 2.16.30. The Junior final saw Smart finishing a close second in new British 16 Age Group record / South East Regional record time of 2.16.02. Bryan finished fourth also in a personal best time of 2.17.79 (Inside the Welsh Consideration Time for the Commonwealth Youth Games). Both Bryan and Smart’s performances will result in International selection. We are waiting to find out what team English, Welsh, British they will be selected for.
Back in action on the final day of the championships were the girls Maia Little, Tash Fenton and Emily Wood in the 100m breaststroke. No finals for the final day, but Wood recorded a time of 1.13.09 and finishing with identical times in the heats were Little and Fenton in 1.14.40.
Not to be outdone by our swimmers, our parents and supporters were putting everything into making sure City of Oxford were recognised amongst the crowd. They were even referenced during live commentary as being amongst the loudest supporters at the championships.
2017 has clearly been a successful year for the City of Oxford Swimming Club at the British Championships and Head Coach Amanda Booth sums this up, saying.. “Following David Murphy’s success in being selected for Britain, Connor Bryan and Callum Smart are following in their teammate’s footsteps putting two more Oxford breaststrokers in the frame for British selection this year or the near future”.