PLYMOUTH Leander’s Ben Proud set a new British short course record on his way to victory in the 50-metre freestyle event at the National Winter Meet in Sheffield on Thursday night.
Proud clocked 20.74 seconds for the spirit, which broke Mark Foster’s long-standing previous national best time of 21.13, which was set nearly 15 years ago.
The University of St Mark and St John student, whose previous best for the event was 21.40, was well ahead of Loughborough’s Andrew Weatheritt, who finished second in 21.55.
Proud’s time takes him to second in the world rankings and makes him the fastest short course sprinter of all-time in the Commonwealth.
“I’m really pleased,” said Proud afterwards. “As soon as I nailed my turn, I knew it was going to be a fast swim but I didn’t think it would be sub 21 seconds.”
There was also success on the first day of the meet for fellow Leander international Antony James.
James, who like Proud is hoping to compete at this summer’s Olympic Games, took second in a fast 100m butterfly race in a time of 51.05. Adam Barrett won in 50.26 seconds.
Leander’s Jessica Jackson finished sixth in the 100m freestyle event in 53.94 seconds, while Perry Gardner clocked 1:59.04 to take seventh in the 200m men’s backstroke final, which was won by former Plymouth College star Joe Hulme in 1:55.27.
Teenager Laura Stephens had qualified fastest for the final of the women’s 200m butterfly with 2:09.61, but she was unable to repeat that time in the evening showpiece session, clocking 2:11.51 to finish eighth. Her former Plymouth College team-mate Charlotte Atkinson, now at Loughborough University, finished sixth in 2:10.88.
Federico Possio also reached a final on the opening night, finishing ninth in the men’s 100m breaststroke.