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Matt Richards . . . Welsh Record Holder, British Champion And Fastest In The World In 2023

By Hannah Blackwell

Matt Richards underlined his growing status as one of the world’s top swimmers as he took the British title and powered under the World Championship qualification time in a thrilling men’s 200m freestyle final at the 2023 British Swimming Championships.

The Team Wales Commonwealth Games star lowered another one of his own Welsh records by nearly a second and the 20-year-old is now the top performer in the world for the distance this year.

In what is always a hotly-anticipated curtain call at a British Championships, the four-lap contest – which featured four Olympic champions and seven Olympians overall – did not disappoint from the very start.

Tom Dean led at the first turn from lane four, with the entire field hot on his heels. James Guy did not let his teammate have it all his own way though, as he maintained his presence in second place by going stroke for stroke with the reigning Olympic champion in the event as the race reached the halfway stage.

Duncan Scott kept with the leaders throughout the race from what proved to be a difficult lane one, but it was Richards who made his mark down the third length – moving himself up into second place and blowing the race wide open ahead of the final length.

It was Richards who stole the show by taking inches out of Dean’s lead with every passing stroke before ultimately sealing the win and qualifying for this summer’s World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka with a time of 1:44.83.

Dean’s performance was enough for a clear silver medal as he also went under the qualifying time with a time of 1:44.93. Guy took the bronze and Scott finished in fourth place – the pair making consideration times with times of 1:45.85 and 1:45.90 respectively, as a sign of Britain’s ongoing world-class strength in this field.

Reflecting on his race and what may still be to come, Richards said: “I’m really happy with that.

“There are still lots of things to move on and improve on, I probably didn’t push it on enough in that middle 100m.

“The plan was to race the race at the end of the day, there was probably a slightly faster time than that, I felt I had a bit more in the tank at the end which is promising for the summer.

“But I’m pretty sure that’s world number one and two, I don’t think we’ve had that since Tokyo when Duncan and Deano were one and two, so that’s very promising for the summer and hopefully we can move it on there.

“There’s lots of big fish in the sea in these events nowadays. There are guys out there going really quick, young guys, old guys, it doesn’t matter anymore. This is a great place to try new things and learn stuff to take into the summer. That’s the plan now, full steam ahead, back in training and get on ready for a big summer.”


An Olympic, world and European medallist over individual and relay disciplines, Dean was quick to highlight what another eye-catching race means for the British Swimming team moving forward.

“That was a world-class final. Two boys doing 1:44s, we haven’t had that since Olympic trials in 2021 when Duncan and I did it and then we went on to win the 4x200m free at the Olympic Games with Matt, Jimmy, Duncan and Jarv [Calum Jarvis],” he said.

“It just bodes really well for that Men’s 4x200m free in the summer again – the one last year was good, but we know we can do better. I feel like the 4x100m free is following the same path the 4x200m has, and hopefully we can go to Japan and be world champions.”

Keanna MacInnes got the better of the athletes either side of her to take gold in the Women’s 100m Butterfly, in a final that saw all eight swimmers separated by a single second after the heats.

The 2001-born athlete had to come from behind at times during the race before sealing the win, as she took the race out with Loughborough Performance Centre’s Laura Stephens and City of Cardiff’s Harriet Jones, who took the silver and bronze medals respectively at the end of what was an unpredictable race.

Jones took the top spot at the halfway stage thanks to a blistering start and first few stroke cycles which carried her easy speed through to the wall, with MacInnes between her and Stephens with not much between them.

The race developed into a battle of endurance and lactic acid tolerance when the athletes got towards the 75m mark, and it was Stephens who made the first charge towards the top spot – her strokes being matched by MacInnes who ultimately held her pace for the longest which gave her victory, with the pair just behind.

“It’s very exciting. After being third in the 200m I was a little disappointed, but coming back in the 100 was my aim after that, so I’m really pleased. Going sub-58 is really good for me,” she said.

“I learnt at the Edinburgh International that if I focus too much on the girls around then I can tense up a bit and put too much energy into the first 50. I just focused on swimming my own race.”

Read more about Matt Richards

Matt Richards Claims Four Golds, A Silver, And A Welsh Record In One Week In Scotland

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