PLYMOUTH Leander’s Olympic hopeful Laura Stephens produced an impressive early season performance to claim victory in the 200m butterfly event at the FFN Golden Tour meeting in Nice at the weekend.
Stephens clocked 2:08.94 to beat a high-class field by more than a second.
The Great Britain international showed great strength in the second part of the race, having turned at the halfway mark 0.62 seconds down on eventual silver medallist Liliana Szilaguy of Hungary.
Stephens’ time ranks her fifth in the early 2020 world rankings.
The Plymouth Leander star also finished fourth in the 100m butterfly final (59.45) behind USA’s Kendyl Stewart, Belarus’ Anastasiyia Shkurdai and Hungarian legend Katinka Hosszu and also set a new PB and club record in the 50m final, where she came sixth in 26.89 seconds.
Fellow Plymouth Leander swimmers Honey Osrin and Tom Beeley both picked up silver medals at the Golden Tour event.
Teenager Osrin caught the eye by finishing second in the open 200m backstroke final with a 2:11.72 swim, which currently ranks her 13th in the world. She was only beaten by American star Kathleen Baker.
Plymouth College pupil Osrin also won the B final 100m backstroke and took second place in the 50m backstroke B final, while she also came third in the junior 50m and 100m freestyle finals.
Fellow Plymouth swimmers Lana Broekhoven, Tom Fannon and Nicole Ricci also reached A finals at the event in France.
Ricci took fifth place in the women’s 400m freestyle in 4:17.28, while youngster Broekhoven swam the European Junior Championship qualifying time as she came seventh in the 400m IM with 4:56.21. Fannon was seventh in the men’s 50m in 23.03 seconds.
There were also B finals for Mount Kelly’s Macy Lawrence and Robbie Jones, Devonport Royal’s Harry Noble and Leander’s James Hart and Maisie Elliott.
Lawrence, Jones and Noble were part of the Swim England team that went to the event.
Leander youngsters Sophie de Groot, Cheuk Ying Cheng, Oriana Noel, Claire Huellou, Isobel Bryant, Greta Kolbeck, Ben Fannon, Ra’eez Warley, Joseph Davies, Eliot Desforges,Salvador Gordo, Igor Shuvalov, Stylianos Symillidis and Charles Kershaw all reached junior finals.
Meanwhile, a host of Plymouth Leander and Mount Kelly swimmers helped Swim England South West win the top team prize at the Lisbon International Meet in Portugal.
Leander’s Freddie Ashley-Sparks, Josh Gammon, Reid Jones, Sam Perks, Ethan Rayment and Amy Pemberton and Mount Kelly’s James Bartley, Joseph Russell, Georgina Dennis, Caitlin Fry, Bella Hodges, Imogen Lambert and Sophie Main were all part of the South West squad.
Mount Kelly’s Lambert had a meet to remember returning with two open bronze medals. She came third in the 50m breaststroke in 33.97 seconds and also made the podium in the 200m breaststroke with a 2:39.14 swim.
Reid Jones just missed out on a medal in the 50m freestyle, clocking 23.77 seconds to finish fourth. He also reached the 100m freestyle final and won the B 50m butterfly final.
There were also A finals for Gammon, who came fifth in both the 100m and 200m butterfly finals, Fry, who was also fifth in two butterfly finals, Perks, Hodges, Dennis, Pemberton and Main.