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Olympic qualification up for grabs for Doha-bound British marathon swimmers

Olympic qualification is the target for a quartet of Britain’s top marathon swimmers that have been selected for next month’s World Aquatics Championships in Doha.

Fukuoka World Championships swimmers Amber Keegan, Leah Crisp return to the British Swimming team as they continue to progress over the longer distance events following transitions from the pool in recent years.

City of Sheffield swimmer Keegan finished 18th on her Worlds debut last summer and notched a top-20 finish at the World Cup closer in December, whilst Crisp was just two places further back in that race.

The pair will be amongst those gearing up for action at the Old Doha Port when the Women’s 10km race kick-starts the marathon swimming schedule on Saturday 3 February – a date Keegan is itching to get to.

Ahead of her second successive World Championships, Keegan said: “I’m just in the last bit of hard work now before tapering ready for Doha.

“Training is going well, and I’m itching to get back to marathon racing. It’s pretty wild to be heading to my second World Champs and for a shot at Olympic qualification.

“Through my five or so years of injury and illness, I thought I had lost my shot at the Olympic dream, so I’m incredibly grateful and excited for this second chance! I’ll give it my all – and it’s cool that we have a team of four at the Worlds this time too.”

‘An exciting team’

They’ll be joined by Tokyo Olympian Hector Pardoe, who ended a successful 2023 by finishing fourth in the final leg of the World Aquatics Open Water World Cup in Madeira in December – less than a second off the podium – looks to strengthen his status on the sport’s biggest stages.

Completing the Doha-bound GB outfit is Loughborough University’s and one of Team England’s Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games swimmers, Toby Robinson – whose last World Championship outing came in Budapest in 2022 and who will be looking for a strong start to 2024 at his fourth Worlds in a GB cap.

Two Olympic quota spots for both the men’s and women’s sides of the 10km events are still available at Paris 2024 for Team GB’s swimmers.

Each of the top 13 finishers in Doha, notwithstanding the three medallists from each event at the last World Championships, will obtain a quota place for their National Olympic Committee so it’s all to play for in Qatar.

Looking ahead to the six day Championships in Doha, British Swimming Performance Pathway and Distance Lead, Kevin Renshaw, said: “With Olympic year now upon us, we are really excited to see what this team of marathon swimmers can do in Doha as they look to secure those Paris 2024 quota places.

“These athletes were selected on the back of some strong swims in Madeira just before Christmas, with Hector and Amber having already met the selection criteria after their impressive performances at the last World Championships in Fukuoka.

“Each one of these swimmers has moved on both their experience and performance levels in the marathon events over the past season, and we know they are preparing excellently for what is a huge set of races next month.

“As ever, the quality of the field means the events in Doha will also provide a valuable racing opportunity so early in the season.”

British Swimming marathon swimming team for 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar (3rd-8th February 2024):

  • Leah Crisp, Bath Performance Centre (England)
  • Amber Keegan, City of Sheffield (England)
  • Hector Pardoe, Loughborough University (Wales)
  • Toby Robinson, Loughborough University (England)