02:59PM, Tuesday 28 June 2022
Maidenhead's Tom Dean produced one of the fastest anchor legs of all time as he helped Great Britain to bronze in the 4x200m freestyle relay at the World Championships last week, one of three bronze medals he won in Budapest.
Competing in his first ever World Championships, the double Olympic champion produced a blistering split of 1.43.53 - the fourth fastest 200m free relay flying split of all time - to earn his team a place on the podium.
The former Maidenhead Marlins Club swimmer then capped off an impressive championships by anchoring the 4x100m medley team to a further bronze medal at the weekend.
Earlier in the week, Dean set off in sub world record speed in the individual 200m free final but paid the price for that over exuberance as he was overhauled by Romania's David Popovici and Korea's Sunwoo Hwang before digging deep to hold off the challenge of American Drew Kibbler, who finished fourth by just 0.03 seconds.
The 4x200m freestyle final brought the curtain down on Thursday evening's proceedings with Dean paving the way for a medal after James Guy, Jacob Whittle and Joe Litchfield had put in the essential groundwork.
Guy, in for Matthew Richards after the heats, set out a solid opening leg before handing over to Whittle who dived in for only his second international 200m relay stint. Litchfield kept Great Britain in contention, but a mammoth final leg was required as he handed over to Dean in fifth.
However, energised by the support of the crowd, Dean produced a powerful final leg to chase down South Korea and the third-placed Brazilians.
Reflecting on his and the team's efforts afterwards he said: “It's always a tricky one after that individual, I really hurt myself on that one, didn't swim it how I wanted to - but you get on the relay and it's a different ball game altogether. You've got the energy of the team, you've got the crowd, you're a bit more relaxed and you swim it faster.
“I knew I was on good form so I was hoping for a quick time, when you're in that arena and you're in that event, chasing someone down, special things can happen.
“Jimmy came here five years ago and went a 1:43, it's always been like a holy grail of relay splits. Duncan then backed it up in Tokyo and went a 1:43, and it's a great honour to join that club now.”
Dean then ensured Great Britain rounded off the championships in style, as he, Luke Greenbank, James Wilby and James Guy claimed another brilliant bronze in the 4x100m medley relay.
The traditional competition closer of the men's and women's relays usually provides great entertainment and this was once again the case at the Duna Arena. The GB quartet found themselves locked in a thrilling, three-way battle for bronze with Australia and France. Greenbank, a silver medallist in the 200m backstroke earlier in the event, gave Britain an early platform from which to build, and Wilby in the breaststroke and Guy in the butterfly hauled the team into bronze medal position. Eyeing a hat-trick of bronzes Dean wasn't about to let that position slip and he provided the back-end speed for the team to touch home in a time of 3.31.81.
“It's my first time with these boys in the medley relay, I've never done a medley before so it's really special to be a part of it,” he said.
“You think back to 2019, they had such a special race when they the World Champs and Duncan did that incredible freestyle leg - so to be part of a team with such history is amazing,” he said.
“When I saw everyone celebrating, I knew we were on the podium, so that was quite special.”
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