Another global gold for University of Bath swimmers as Ben Proud storms to 50m freestyle title at 2021 World Short-Course Champs

20 December 2021

University of Bath swimmer Ben Proud produced a stunning performance to win 50m freestyle gold at the FINA World Short-Course Championships in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The in-form sprinter, coached by Mark Skimming at the Team Bath Sports Training Village, was fastest out of the blocks in the final and level with Ryan Held at the 25m turn before powering past his American rival on the final lap to touch first in 20.45secs.

That was just five-hundredths of a second off the British record Proud set earlier this month while helping Energy Standard win the International Swimming League title and saw him add world short-course gold to the world butterfly and European freestyle titles he had previously won in a long-course pool.

The dominant performance was also the ideal way to end a year that saw him claim 50m freestyle silver at the European Championships but narrowly miss out on the Olympic podium in Tokyo.

“There’s lots to be happy with,” said Proud, who joined Skimming’s training group at the start of the year. “I’m really surprised with that time, I wasn’t expecting so much and that’s a big stepping stone for me. I was really upset with the Olympics and how it went, I can’t lie about that, but to finish off like this is a little surprise I didn’t expect and I can go home now with a nice medal around my neck, see family, see friends and enjoy myself.

“Looking ahead to next year, after the Olympics, there’s no pressure but I want to be on the podium at every event. I have a lot to learn and take away from this and for me I’ve learned so much about myself, racing so much. I can’t wait to come into the new year with less pressure.”

Skimming, Head of Swimming at the University of Bath, added: “After a difficult year with Covid and moving training bases, Ben has been the ultimate professional and done a fantastic job to become a well-deserved World Champion. It’s been great to be part of the journey and I look forward to continuing the journey with him and the rest of our team.”

Proud’s success continues an incredible 2021 on the global stage for University of Bath-based swimmers, with Tom Dean, James Guy, Matt Richards, Freya Anderson and Calum Jarvis of the British Swimming National Centre Bath all bringing home gold medals from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Click here to find out more about the swimming programme at the University of Bath.

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