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Para-athletes shine at the BUCS Short Course Swimming Championships 12/11/2017

From 10-12 November, 1743 students – including Olympic-level athletes – made their way to Ponds Forge, Sheffield for the 2017 BUCS Short Course Swimming Championships.

From 10-12 November, 1743 students – including Olympic-level athletes – made their way to Ponds Forge, Sheffield for the 2017 BUCS Short Course Swimming Championships.

Day one

The competition’s first north and south pool events featured the men’s 1500m freestyle and the women’s 800m freestyle, with both events decided by heat declared winners.

18-year-old Abbie Wood of Loughborough won the first gold medal of the competition in the 800m freestyle in a time of 8:27.20, closely followed by her Loughborough teammate Alice Dearing who won the silver medal.

Stirling’s Duncan Scott returned to the BUCS Championships and started the competition as he finished his last – with a gold medal. Duncan holds the BUCS 100m freestyle record (47.51), but his first gold medal came in the 1500m freestyle event. Under a second behind Duncan’s time of 15.14.78 was Sheffield Hallam’s Sam Budd who claimed the silver medal (15.44.99).

Day two

With the morning and afternoon sessions chock full of heats, athletes were vying for their spot in the evening’s finals. The men’s and women’s 200m freestyle heats got the day underway. Edinburgh’s Kathryn Greenslade set the quickest time (1.57.13) in the women’s event and Stirling’s Craig McLean (1:48.72) in the men’s event.

Stirling’s Craig Benson, who holds all three men’s BUCS breaststroke records qualified second in the men’s 50m breaststroke event (27.70) behind his Stirling teammate Zak Aitchison (27.35). Last year’s silver medallist Beth Aitchison, Zak’s sister, of Loughborough qualified second in the women’s 50m breaststroke (31.11) behind fellow Loughborough student Jocelyn Ulyett (30.68).

David Cumberlidge of Heriot-Watt set the quickest men’s 50m freestyle time in the heats when he posted an impressive 21.61 – just 0.21 off Ben Proud’s BUCS record – ahead of the evening’s final. However, in the north pool the first BUCS record of the Championships fell as Loughborough’s Jocelyn Ulyett broke her own 2015 record in the 200m breaststroke in a time of 21.21.19.

Para-swimmer Andrew Mullen, representing Glasgow Caledonian, shone in the pool as he set a new S5 50m backstroke European Record in a time of 38.18.

Andrew opened the floodgates as a flurry of BUCS records fell in the final session of the second day. The first to go was the women’s 200m freestyle record as Edinburgh’s Kathryn Greenslade posted a time of 1.54.67 in the final on her way to BUCS gold. Shortly after, her Edinburgh teammate Lucy Hope broke the women’s 50m backstroke record with a time of 27.07. Though it wasn’t long before Kathryn added another record to her collection – this time in the 200m backstroke (2.05.33).

After winning a silver medal earlier in the session, finishing behind his Loughborough teammate Dan Cross in the men’s 50m backstroke, Luke Greenbank broke Ryan Bennett’s BUCS 200m backstroke record from 2013 as he won his first gold of the Championships.

Edinburgh’s followed Luke’s success by breaking their own 4x50m freestyle record from 2016 Championships at the end of the session with a time of 1.40.49 in the final. 

Siblings Beth and Zak Aitchison won back-to-back breaststroke finals on the second day of competition. Beth, representing Loughborough, won the 50m gold before Stirling’s Zak beat reigning champion and BUCS record holder Craig Benson, also of Stirling, in the men’s 50m event.

Day three

Following in Andrew Mullen’s footsteps in breaking para records, Manchester’s Grace Harvey and Gloucestershire’s Harvey Wellington broke para records of their own. Grace (SM7) broke the second European para record of the Championships when she completed the 200m IM in 2.09.71, and Harvey (S13) set a new British para record with his 27.58 swim in the 50m butterfly.

The first final of the afternoon session saw yet another BUCS record fall – Charlotte Atkinson, of Loughborough University, continued her form with a gold in the women’s 200m butterfly, winning in a BUCS record time of 2.05.51.

Just two races later, and Edinburgh’s Lucy Hope, who travelled to Taipei earlier this year as part of Team GBR at the Summer Universiade, broke the women’s 100m freestyle record with a new time of 53.39. In doing so, she beat last year’s Bath’s Anna Hopkin (Bath) who also held the record prior to Lucy’s Sunday performance.

The men’s 200m butterfly final was arguably the most entertaining final of the Championships. Sheffield Hallam’s Joe Litchfield and Stirling’s Duncan Scott were neck and neck throughout the whole race. Duncan edged away slightly in the last 50 metres to finish in a time of 1.56.32 – just ahead of Joe’s 1.56.40 finishing time.

The next and final record for fall at the Championships belonged to Loughborough’s Jocelyn Ulyett, who also broke the BUCS women’s 200m breaststroke record on day two of the competition. This time she set the women’s 100m breaststroke record with a time of 1.06.04 – just edging clear of Edinburgh’s Corrie Scott to the podium’s top spot.

The overall winners of the 2017 BUCS Short Course Championships were Loughborough University (405 points), followed by the University of Stirling in second place (305 points) and the University of Edinburgh in third (268 points).

Full results are now available and all the weekend’s action can be seen across social media

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