PLYMOUTH Leander swimmers will be hoping to secure international places this week when they compete at the British Championships in Sheffield, which start on Tuesday.
The event at Ponds Forge is acting as trials for the World Championships in Budapest, as well as for the World Junior Championships, the World University Games, the European Junior Championships and the European Youth Olympic Festival.
Leander are taking a squad of 24 to the trails in South Yorkshire.
Leading their team once again will be Olympic finalist and double Commonwealth Games sprint champion Ben Proud.
Proud has spent the last few months training in Turkey with James Gibson at the Energy Standard Club.
However, he will be back in Leander colours this week and hoping to secure his place in the Great Britain team for the World Championships.
To guarantee his spot, Proud needs to win either the 50m or 100m freestyle events and swim under the qualifying mark.
Proud will also compete in the 50m butterfly event, but as that is not currently an Olympic race, it does not qualify for GB selection purposes, even though it is a World Championship event.
British Swimming, like they did ahead of last year’s Olympic Games, have set incredibly tough qualifying times.
Proud may have finished fourth in the 50m freestyle at last year’s Olympic Games and be currently ranked third in the world, but he would need to match his PB and British record time of 21.54 seconds to automatically qualify.
However, British Swimming head coach Bill Furniss can also pick six wildcard selections before secondary selections are made with athletes who have achieved ‘consideration’ times at the British Championships. The consideration time for Proud’s main event, the 50m freestyle, is 22.00 seconds.
Furniss has made no apologies for setting tough standards and it has worked, with British Swimming experiencing impressive results at last year’s Olympic Games and the last World Championships.
But Furniss is now looking ahead to Tokyo 2020.
“Rio 2016 is history now,” he said. “It was a great result for us but we are now at the start of a new cycle, we’ve pressed the reset button and we’re moving on.
“These (British) Championships will be the first time since the Rio Games where all of our athletes will be firing and trying to make a team for the major summer international events and these are headlined by the World Championships this year.
“We’ve had retirements, which are to be expected at the end of an Olympic cycle, but we have good depth of talent in Britain and it’s important that we start off the new cycle in the right way. These championships will be a good introduction as we start to build on the foundations already laid to Tokyo.”
As well as Proud, Leander’s Tom Fannon, Jessica Jackson and Laura Stephens are all serious medal contenders in Sheffield and are ranked within the top three in their respective best events.
The full list of Leander swimmers competing at the event is: Tom Beagley, Charlie Boden, Oscar Brain
Adam Chillingworth, Freddy Clampett, Iestyn Cole, Sam Dailley, Adam Davies, Reece Dunn, Tom Fannon, Rob Fannon, Marcus Gardiner, Perry Gardner, Harry James, David Miller, Morgan Newman, Ben Proud, Tom Rudd, James Watson, Tegan Drew, Emma England, Jessica Jackson, Honey Osrin, Laura Stephens.
The team will be accompanied by head coach Robin Armayan and strength and conditioning coach Daniel Waddingham.
The competition starts at 10am on Tuesday. The first event will be the men’s 400m freestyle, which will include Leander’s Adam Davies and Mount Kelly’s Tony-Joe Trett Oliver.
The Mount Kelly team also includes Niah Robinson, Oliver Traverner, Kaylee Dekker, Athena Clayson, Georgina Dennis, Andrew Paige, Ben Staig, Harry Turner, Savanna Best, Morgan Penney, Henry Dixon, Alex Seymour, Finn Linton, Michael Alcorn, Ben Harrison, Sam Peck, Molly Francis and Chloe Plater.