University of Bath-based swimmers end busy but rewarding summer with 45 medals after earning 14 more at European Championships
Swimmers who train at the University of Bath finished a hectic summer of international competition with a phenomenal 45 medals between them after winning another 14 at the 2022 European Championships in Rome.
Freya Anderson led the way with two gold, three silver and a bronze while there were further podium places for fellow British Swimming Performance Centre Bath swimmers Tom Dean, Ed Mildred, Jacob Peters, Kieran Bird and Holly Hibbott. University of Bath Swimming Club’s Ben Proud also made history by becoming the first man to win World, Commonwealth and European 50m freestyle gold in the same season.
Sporting scholar Dean ended his own stellar summer with 13 medals in total after adding one of each colour to the three bronze he won at the World Championships in Budapest plus the record-breaking one gold and six silver secured at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“I was speaking to my coach [David McNulty] earlier, he said he’s done 22 days of competition this summer, 44 sessions, which is emotionally draining,” said Dean. “I’m into over 35 races personally in three months now. It’s unheard of, never been done before and probably won’t happen again.
“The focus here was to enjoy racing outdoors, enjoy racing in Rome, have a great time in the relays and put together combinations we haven’t done before, so from that perspective the meet has been an absolute success.
“You can never have enough racing experience, so maybe doing 22 days of solid racing two years out [from the Paris Olympics] will really help us down the line. I’ve been able to plan my schedule throughout the week a lot better and I’ll take a lot of learnings from that – it’s all stepping stones towards the big one.”
The Europeans started just a week after the Commonwealth swimming meet had finished but Anderson showed no signs of fatigue as she anchored a women’s 4x200m freestyle relay quartet featuring Freya Colbert, Lucy Hope and Medi Harris to silver in 7:54.73 on the opening night. Bath team-mate Hibbott also received a medal after swimming in the morning’s heats.
Anderson, coached by David McNulty at the Team Bath Sports Training Village, then produced a gutsy swim the following night to take bronze in the 100m freestyle – only missing out on silver by one-hundredth of a second as she touched the wall in 53.63.
“I’m really chuffed with that,” she said. “Me and my coach always knew there was a chance but I had to adjust my race plan to be in with a chance; just go out and hold on. It paid off and I’m really happy.”
A first gold came on the third night as Anderson produced a storming last leg in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay to bring the British quartet of Hope, University of Bath alumna Anna Hopkin and Harris home first in 3:36.47.
Anderson claimed her fourth medal in as many days in the individual 200m freestyle, once again digging deep to advance from fourth at the halfway stage to take another superb silver in 1:56.52.
Day five saw her team up with training partner Dean and two former Bath-based swimmers, Hopkin and Matt Richards, to win silver in the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay, Anderson producing a flat-out racing finish to make up half a body-length on the three leading countries to finish runner-up to France in 3:23.30. Mildred also received a medal for his role in the morning’s heats.
Anderson, Dean and Richards then teamed up with Colbert (pictured top) on the sixth night to defend GB’s mixed 4x200m freestyle relay title in superb style, the British quartet leading throughout before Anderson used her superior endurance to fend off a French challenge and emphatically pull away down the final 50 metres. Fellow Bath swimmer Bird also won gold following his fine heats performance.
Bill Whiteley Sporting Scholar Dean – alongside Anderson as one of the busiest GB swimmers this summer – delivered his usual impactful relay performance as part of a youthful men’s 4x100m freestyle relay quartet that won a brilliant bronze. After Jacob Whittle and Richards had given the Brits a solid start, Dean advanced them into the medal positions before training partner Mildred showed great composure to secure third spot in 3:12.70.
It was a first international senior final for Mildred, who said: “I knew I had to do something special and I’m glad to come away with a medal and do my part for the team. I like being under pressure and I felt like I definitely performed. Every swim is a learning experience and I’ll definitely take a lot away from being in such an environment.”
Performance Centre Bath team-mate Jacob Peters also brought home bronze after his strong butterfly leg put a new-look GB mixed 4x100m medley relay team firmly in medal contention before Sport and Exercise Science alumna Hopkin anchored them to third place in 3:44.69.
University of Bath Swimming Club’s Ben Proud completed his clean sweep of international 50m freestyle titles this summer after touching the wall in 21.58, adding European gold to his World and Commonwealth crowns.
Proud trained with Mark Skimming’s student group at the University for 18 months before moving back to his pre-Covid training base in Turkey earlier this summer. Skimming was among the people he thanked afterwards for his support throughout the year.
European Championships roll of honour
Gold (6): Freya Anderson (women’s 4x100m freestyle relay; mixed 4x200m freestyle relay); Kieran Bird (mixed 4x200m freestyle relay); Tom Dean (mixed 4x200m freestyle relay); Anna Hopkin* (women’s 4x100m freestyle relay); Ben Proud (50m freestyle).
Silver (7): Freya Anderson (200m freestyle; women’s 4x200m freestyle relay; mixed 4x100m freestyle relay); Tom Dean (mixed 4x100m freestyle relay); Holly Hibbott (women’s 4x200m freestyle relay); Anna Hopkin* (mixed 4x100m freestyle relay); Ed Mildred (mixed 4x100m freestyle relay).
Bronze (5): Freya Anderson (100m freestyle); Tom Dean (men’s 4x100m freestyle relay); Anna Hopkin* (mixed 4x100m medley relay); Ed Mildred (men’s 4x100m freestyle relay); Jacob Peters (mixed 4x100m medley relay).
* University of Bath alumni