Plymouth Leander’s Tokyo hopefuls impress in Manchester

PLYMOUTH Leander’s Tokyo hopefuls Laura Stephens, Ben Proud and Reece Dunn impressed on the opening day of the British Swimming International Meet in Manchester on Friday.

Stephens backed up her victory at the Manchester International Meet last month by winning the women’s 200m butterfly event again – but against a stronger field.

The Great Britain international, who is hoping to secure a place on the Great Britain team for this summer’s Olympic Games, swam 0.30 seconds faster than last month, clocking 2:08.58.

She finished nearly a second ahead of Bath’s Emily Large (2:09.54) in second, with Stirling’s Keanna MacInnes (2:09.88) and Aimee Willmott (2:11.70) taking third and fourth. Leander teenager Sophie Freeman was sixth in 2:14.15, which was quicker than she swam last month when she finished fourth, while Maisie Elliott was eighth in 2:19.83.

Proud, who has won World, European and Commonwealth titles and competed at the last Olympic Games, made his first appearance of the season in Manchester, winning the men’s 50m freestyle.

Proud eased to victory in 22.15 seconds, which was more than half-a-second ahead of Bath’s Matthew Richards (22.81) in the silver medal position.

Leander’s Paralympic Games hopeful Reece Dunn made the same open one-length final, finishing eighth in 24.46. That would have won the multi-class final had he competed in that.

Dunn also swam in the heats of the 100m butterfly, clocking 57.76 seconds to finish as the quickest multi-class swimmer.

Meanwhile, Plymouth Leander’s Honey Orsin finished seventh in a strong women’s 50m backstroke final. She clocked 29.44 seconds. She will go in the 100m backstroke event on Saturday, with her favourite 200m discipline on Sunday.

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