European Swimming Championships in Berlin – Day 5

Events & Competitions
Written by: Elizabeth Byrnes at 23 August '14 0
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Adam Peaty sat on top of a lane rope and on top of the world after breaking the 50m breaststroke world record in a Carbon Flex Grey on Friday night. The 19-year-old’s coach Mel Marshall was horrified when she first set eyes on him doing freestyle at City of Derby. However, once she saw his breaststroke it was in Peaty’s words “a game-changer”. That was just five years ago. In the last month he has won two Commonwealth golds and a silver medal. Berlin beckoned and he won the 100m breaststroke title before joining the British mixed medley relay title that broke the world record. Then came Friday night and his glide into the wall after which he hoisted himself on to the lane rope and blinked in amazement as he stared at the scoreboard. Ever modest, Peaty paid tribute to Cameron van der Burgh, whose record had stood since 2009 until the Briton’s intervention. “He was one of my idols since I was a kid. “I looked on in 2012 and I was like ‘if I work that hard I can be like him’.” Fran Halsall prepared for another day in the water by luxuriating in her bath at the British team hotel. She beamed: “I had a nice day in the bath. I did some crosswords. I am turning into some kind of old lady, sat in the bath doing a crossword. It was a nice day off. “I went and had a bratwurst, a delicacy, so I enjoyed that. It’s been good.” Therese Alshammar was keeping it in the family at the pool. The freestyle and butterfly sprint specialist has won three Olympic, eight world and 21 European medals. She gave birth to baby Fred in June 2013 and she is competing in Berlin at the age of 36 – turning 37 on Monday – with an ambition of making it to the 2016 Olympics Rio de Janeiro. Therese’s mother is 1972 Olympic 100m breaststroke finalist Brett-Marie Smedh and Fred comes from fine swimming stock. Therese for a mother and  two-time Olympian Johan Wallberg, her coach and partner, for a father. Fred certainly seems comfortable near water. He made an appearance on poolside following the heats as his mother swam and father coached. Despite only being 14 months old, Fred was mostly steady on his feet, charging up and down. And very vocal in his support of mum too. Drops made an impression again. Not only on poolside where he positioned himself in the middle of the two female samba dancers who had returned for a second night. So much did he wiggle and spin that he fell over. There was though not quite the same level of exuberance as previous nights – no gatecrashing of medal ceremonies – and he was clearly being chaperoned by a woman in a pinky-purple top. That felt quite wrong really.


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Elizabeth Byrnes

Liz swam with a local club in Sheffield, England, as a child before retiring at the grand old age of 12. Her lifelong love of the water, combined with a passion for travel, has seen Liz plunge into pools across the world. Liz spent 12 years with the Press Association reporting on swimming and athletics at Olympic and World level but is now fulfilling a dream as a freelance writer. When not in or around the water, she can be found hiking, running and cycling.