PLYMOUTH Leander’s Laura Stephens has been rewarded with her outstanding performance at the British Swimming Championships last week with a place in Great Britain’s squad for this summer’s World Championships in South Korea.
Stephens smashed her personal best by more than second to swim 2:07.96 minutes and take silver behind Alys Thomas in a thrilling women’s 200m butterfly final.
The pair were head-to-head until the final couple of metres and they finished nearly two seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Commonwealth Games champion Thomas achieved the World Championship consideration time, but Stephens was just 0.07 seconds off it.
However, the Plymouth swimmer has been selected as one of eight ‘wild card’ picks as she is deemed to have the chance of reaching the final in Gwangju as she is currently ranked in the world’s top eight and is seen as a prospect for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
British Swimming’s national performance director Chris Spice said 19-year-old Stephens, who competed at the 2016 European Championships while still at school, more than deserved her place on the team as one of his discretionary selections.
“In terms of our discretionary selections, this year a key consideration was the need to qualify our relays for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, whilst resting those relay athletes that could have large schedules in Gwangju,” said Spice.
“Having said that, the stand out swim from this category was Laura Stephens in the 200m butterfly, who just missed the World’s individual consideration time by 0.05 per cent, so she fully deserves her inclusion.
“Now that the team is finalised we will head to a team preparation camp in June, with all athletes and staff getting together for two legs of the Mare Nostrum series in Canet and Barcelona. We have also been fortunate to secure our pre-World’s holding camp in Yokohama this year, which will also form a dress rehearsal for our preparations for Tokyo 2020.”
Stephens said: “Very excited to announce I will be heading to Gwangju, South Korea this summer for my first long course World Championships. Very grateful for all the support I receive.”
As expected fellow Plymouth swimmer Ben Proud is included in the squad. He will be looking to defend his World Championship 50m butterfly title and also add the global 50m freestyle crown to his impressive collection of medals.
The World Aquatic Championships will take place between July 12 and July 28.
Great Britain’s 25-strong World Championship squad is:
Adam Peaty (England) National Centre Loughborough
Dan Jervis (Wales) – Swansea University
Max Litchfield (England) – National Centre Loughborough
Duncan Scott (Scotland) – University of Stirling
James Wilby (England) National Centre Loughborough
Ben Proud (England) Plymouth Leander
Ross Murdoch (Scotland) – University of Stirling
Luke Greenbank (England) – National Centre Loughborough
James Guy (England) – National Centre Bath
Georgia Davies (Wales) – Loughborough University
Alys Thomas (Wales) – Swansea University
Molly Renshaw (England) – National Centre Loughborough
Freya Anderson (England) – Ellesmere College
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor (England) – National Centre Bath
Aimee Willmott (England) – University of Stirling
Tom Dean (England) – National Centre Bath
Calum Jarvis (Wales) – National Centre Bath
Cameron Kurle (Wales) – National Centre Bath
Nick Pyle (England) – Newcastle
Holly Hibbott (England) – Stockport Metro
Georgia Coates (England) – National Centre Bath
Scott McLay (Scotland) – University of Stirling
Jess Fullalove (England) – National Centre Bath
Anna Hopkin (England) – Ealing
Laura Stephens (England) – Plymouth Leander