FINA World Aquatics Championships kickstart busy summer of three major events in two months for Bath-based British Swimming stars
After enjoying a golden Olympic Games last summer, swimmers based at the University of Bath are raring to take on the world again as they begin an action-packed two months of international competition.
Six members of the British Swimming Performance Centre Bath squad – including Tokyo 2020 gold-medallists Freya Anderson, Tom Dean, James Guy and Matt Richards – are competing at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary from 17th June to 3rd July.
Fellow Olympians Jacob Peters and Brodie Williams are also in the 23-strong British team for the first major international meet since the Olympics, along with University of Bath alumna Anna Hopkin. David McNulty, Lead Coach at the Bath Performance Centre, is among the five travelling coaches.
The World Championships begin a hectic summer of swimming, which also includes the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games from 28th July to 8th August and the 2022 European Aquatics Championships in Rome from 11th to 21st August.
McNulty said: “I’ve been coaching for over 30 years and the most we’ve had in a year is two major meets, so to have a Worlds, Commonwealths and Euros in 10 weeks is something completely different.
“We’re going to target each one at a time and the biggest comes first as it’s a world event. We’ll then have four weeks before the Commonwealths where we’ll do a double taper, increasing the workload for two weeks before coming back down again. It’s not easy to do physically or mentally because normally you would have a break after a championships, so as a coach I have to sell that to the athletes. It’s a plan I believe in and hopefully they will too.”
Double Olympic Champion Dean has full belief in the approach, saying: “I’m excited for the next few weeks. It’s going to be pretty crazy but I have every faith that Dave will get us in the best shape possible for each competition.”
Dean, who won 200m freestyle individual and relay gold in Tokyo last summer, has also been speaking with his coach about going into a global competition as the man to beat.
“It’s the first time I’ll be stepping on the world stage with a target on my back,” he said. “It could be an added degree of pressure but I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m going out there as Olympic Champion and the man with the fastest time in the world. That gives me a great source of confidence. I went to Tokyo and delivered the performance I wanted, I didn’t let the event get the better of me, so that’s my aim for the World Championships too.”
Richards, who won Olympic gold alongside Dean in the relay, will make his World Championships debut in Hungary and said: “I got my first real taste of senior competition in Tokyo last summer and being able to stand on top of the podium at that level was incredible. I gained so much experience and it’s given me a taste for it now, I just want to do it again and again and again.
“It’s all about continued progression this summer, looking to improve from where we were last year and finding the areas where we can grab a tenth of a second here or a hundredth of a second there.”
Anderson, one of five Olympic gold-medallists in the Bath Performance Centre squad, will race in three freestyle events plus relays in Budapest and said: “It’s going to be a hectic schedule but you focus on what you have coming up each day. Training has been going really well, it’s been a really consistent block since January, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do at the Worlds. Hopefully I can produce the swims I know I’m capable of.”
Competing at his first World Championships is butterfly specialist Peters, who said: “I will have ticked off all the major events after this so that’s a bit of an achievement, I’m happy about that. I’m definitely more comfortable in that environment now and I’d love to get in an individual world final. My stroke is feeling really good, my times are good and I’m looking forward to seeing how I get on.”
Also completing the full set of championships in Budapest is Williams, who said: “It’s going to be a different few weeks, having to bounce on twice, but I think we’ve all put a good block of work in and we’re ready for it. The Olympics was a great experience and I think I can use that heading into the Worlds.”
The British Swimming Performance Centre Bath has been based at the Team Bath Sports Training Village since 2008, producing a host of Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth medallists. Swimmers train in the 50m London 2012 Legacy Pool, the high-performance gym and other facilities around the STV.