Max and Joe Litchfield rewrite history with selection for Team GB swimming squad for Tokyo 2020

For just the third time in history, two brothers will represent Great Britain in an Olympic swimming meet – and those siblings are from Yorkshire.

City of Sheffield swimmers Max (right) and Joe Litchfield at Ponds Forge Swimming Centre. (Picture: Scott Merrylees)

Max and Joe Litchfield of Pontefract were yesterday named as part of an initial 28-strong British squad for this summer’s rearranged Tokyo Olympics.

At 26, Max is the elder brother, a veteran of one Olympics and various international meets. He was a finalist in the 400m individual medley in Rio and is a former European Championship medallist.

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Joe, 22, is also a medley swimmer, who will be making his debut at this level.

England's Aimee Willmott after winning Gold in the Women's 400m Individual Medley at the Optus Aquatic Centre during day one of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia. (Picture: PA)

“Throughout our careers, this has always been our target,” said Joe, who like his brother was born in Pontefract, swam at Doncaster Dartes and then City of Sheffield before moving to the high performance centre at Loughborough. “For it to be our first international meet together is pretty mental.”

Max added: “It’s absolutely amazing. We’re both over the moon.”

The Litchfields follow Albert and John Dickin in 1920 and twins Bert and Jack Wardrop at the Helsinki Olympics in 1952 as brothers swimming for Britain.

The announcement yesterday also brought good news for another medley swimmer from Yorkshire, Aimee Willmott of Middlesbrough, who is going to her third Olympics.

Great Britain's Adam Peaty with his gold medal following the Men's 100m breaststroke final at Rio (Picture: PA)

James Wilby, who swam for York in his younger days, was pre-selected alongside Adam Peaty earlier this year. Wilby was a silver medallist behind breaststroke superstar Peaty at the last world championships.

The latest batch of entrants includes ex-world champion Ben Proud and two-time Rio 2016 silver medallist James Guy.

Molly Renshaw – who broke the British record for the 200 metres breaststroke at the selection trials earlier this month, setting a world-leading time in the discipline in the process – is also set to travel to Tokyo this summer.

While Britain’s swimmers collected six medals in Brazil five years ago, when Peaty memorably clinched gold by breaking his own world record in the 100m breaststroke, Team GB chef de mission Mark England is bullish about bettering that haul in Japan.

“The team has a blend of Olympic medallists from Rio, it obviously has Olympic champions. It has members of the team who have some of the world’s fastest times in 2021,” he said.

“I’d be pretty confident that we are selecting the strongest swim team that has ever represented Team GB at an Olympic Games. We’ll see some special, special moments in the pool in Tokyo.”

Looking more broadly, England added: “What we are taking to the Games is a very, very, very competitive team.”

Peaty added: “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to go there and defend – or attack, as I call it. I want to go out there with my best performance by getting into the right mindset, the nerves, the enjoyment, the thrill of it, the adrenaline.”

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