After a year off due to the pandemic, the Swim England National Winter Championships return to Ponds Forge this weekend.
The short course meet is the biggest of the winter cycle and will feature some of England’s top athletes, including a number of Team GB Olympians who competed at the Tokyo 2021 summer games.
The action kicked off at 9am this morning, with heats in the men’s 50m freestyle and women’s 100m breaststroke opening proceedings.
Several changes have been made to the running of the event this year, due to the ongoing effects of Covid-19.
As well as placing limits on the number of spectators, qualifying times were adjusted to take into account restrictions on training and competition over the past two seasons.
“We’re actually having more swimmers at this meet than we’ve ever had before,” said Richard Bradshaw, Head of Talent for Swim England, adding that the goal this year was to make the championships accessible to as many swimmers as possible:
“We hope that [the meet] has really inspired swimmers to come back to training, to enjoy their swimming and given them something to really focus on at the end of cycle one.”
However, he said that we can still expect the usual star-studded line-up, with several high-profile swimmers using the event as a springboard for the upcoming World Swimming Championships (25m) in Doha later this month.
Some famous names making appearances include Abbie Wood (women’s 200m and 400m freestyle), Jacob Whittle (men’s 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle) and Olympic champions, Anna Hopkin (women’s 50m and 100m freestyle) and Matthew Richards (men’s 50m fly and 50m free).
The Swim England National Winter Championships runs from 3-5 December at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre. Further information about the event, including ticketing and livestream information, can be found at https://www.swimming.org/sport/about-the-national-winter-championships/