British Swimming Championships: Max Litchfield smashes national record to win gold over younger brother Joe

Max Litchfield
Max Litchfield
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Olympian Max Litchfield heralded a new era in British individual medley racing after smashing a national record at the British Swimming Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield.

Litchfield earned the family bragging rights and a place at the upcoming World Championships in Budapest with a dominant swim in the 400m individual medley.

The 22-year-old from Badsworth, near Pontefract, led from the first butterfly kick and powered home in the multi-stroke discipline in 4.10.63 to break Dan Wallace’s three-year old record by almost half a second.

“I knew I had that swim in me,” said Litchfield, who finished fourth in the event at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

“I thought I had it in me at Rio but it wasn't as controlled. It's fantastic to go 4.10 and glad I've got the time for the worlds.”

Brother Joe Litchfield completed a memorable race for the family as he won bronze in his first senior national championships.

The 18-year-old Eurooean Junior champion almost set a second personal best of the day - after slicing three seconds off in qualifying - as he charged to the wall in 4.19.18, four seconds behind silver medallist Mark Szaranek.

The event was the first time both Litchfield brothers had gone head to head in a senior national final. And Max believes it could be the start of an intense rivalry - stretching further than simple brotherly love.

“It's fantastic to see us doing well - his personal best was a huge achievement,” added Max.

“We are not the closest of brothers but we give each other a hug beforehand and wish each other luck. After the race, we'll congratulate each other.

“When you're in the pool he is just another competitor. It's a weird relationship but it works for us and I'm just glad to see us swimming fast.

“He's chasing me down all the time. He's swimming personal bests and he's swimming as fast as I was at his age. He's definitely on the right tracks to get where I am in a couple of years time. It would be fantastic if we can have some really close races.”

Joe has set his sights on lowering his personal best by three seconds ahead of a potential head to head with his brother at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018.

The 18-year-old moved to Sheffield last year to train alongside his brother again - renewing their partnership from younger days at Doncaster Dartes.

He believes the move has served him well.

Joe said: “Swimming with the fastest ever British swimmer, training with him and racing with him every day. It's something I need to strive towards. One day I will really want to challenge him for that first place.”

On the prospect of an Olympic podium featuring the pair in the future, he added: “That's the dream. Hopefully at 2020 I will be able to do what Max did in Rio and go and challenge.”

Thursday’s evening schedule started as it meant to go on for Yorkshire’s swimmers as promising City of Leeds talents Ciara Schlosshan and Amelia Clynes secured back-to-back victories in the 200m butterfly.

Schlosshan was dominant thoroughout the junior race and touched the wall almost a second clear of the field in 2.13.14.

Clynes was embroiled in a tense battle with Loughborough University’s Brearnna Close but had the faster stroke to win the Target Tokyo event in 2.12.06 - shaving more than a second off her qualifying time.

Olympic gold medallist Adam Peaty had lit up the first two days of competition with two national breastrotke titles although the 22-year-old missed out on breaking his own world record in the 50m breaststroke on Wednesday.

Peaty, the world’s best breastroke swimmer, will be the lead name heading for honours when the British team embark on the worlds in Hungary in July although Max Litchfield will be gunning for an improvement on his fourth place in Rio.

Litchfield added: “I wanted to medal in Rio and coming into Budapest, it's the exact same thing.

“I am getting closer to the time bronze went for in Rio. It could be faster this year but I'm not focusing on time, it's about putting my race together. Whatever that turns out to be, that's what it turns out to be.”

Sheffield’s Ele Faulkner (1.57.88) also secured her place at the championships after she won the 200m freestyle title in Sheffield by over a minute and a half. Leeds’ Georgia Coates trailed home in seventh in 2.00.78.

Meanwhile last night, Scotland’s Duncan Scott (47.50) stormed to a new British record to win gold by two seconds in the 100m freestyle final - with Sheffield’s Nick Grainger (49.80) down in fifth.

Isle of Man athlete Charlotte Atkinson secured her second national title of the meeting with victory over Olympian Hannah Miley in the 200m butterfly.