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Hopkin smashes personal best in impressive World Championships debut

Anna Hopkin swam a huge lifetime best to become the second fastest woman in British history as she qualified for the 100m Freestyle semi-finals at the FINA World Championships.

The Ealing and University of Arkansas swimmer looked nerveless in her debut at the competition, finishing second in her heat to qualify third fastest for the semi-finals in 53.21s.

That was the first time Hopkin had swum under 54 seconds, improving her personal best – set at the British Championships in April – by 0.81s.

Fran Halsall is the only female Brit to have gone quicker over the distance, though Halsall’s mark of 52.87s was achieved in the now banned body suits.

Hopkin said: “I can’t believe that! That’s a huge PB and I felt really good, so I’m just excited for tonight now.

“This is my first World Champs but I just felt really relaxed, I didn’t feel nervous as the couple of international competitions I’ve done have prepared me well and I’m gradually getting used to racing in this environment.

“If I do that time tonight it might scrape me into the final but hopefully I can go faster!”

Greenbank’s star rises

Luke Greenbank continued to impress in Gwangju, qualifying third fastest for the semi-finals of the Men’s 200m Backstroke.

The NC Loughborough swimmer was 14th in the 100m Backstroke, but looked in command as he aims to reach a World Championships final for the first time in his career.

Greenbank was second in his heat, qualifying third fastest for the semis with a time of 1:56.83.

That is almost two seconds quicker than his semi-final time in Budapest two years ago, when he finished 13th overall.

The 21-year-old swam a personal best to win the British title earlier this year.

He said: “I’m really happy to put a good one down in the heats and hopefully I can move it on tonight.

“I just wanted to come into that with a clean slate with no pressure and the mindset of ‘everything to gain, nothing to lose’.

“That’s my fastest heat swim and second fastest time ever and it’ll get me a good lane in the semi-final where there’s a bit more going on.”

Renshaw in strong position

Molly Renshaw qualified eighth fastest for the Women’s 200m Breaststroke semi-finals, clocking 2:25.17 to finish fourth in her heat.

The Loughborough University swimmer impressed with a seventh place finish in the 100m Breaststroke, but will hope to go better in her pet event.

Renshaw set her personal best time of 2:22.72 at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and has left plenty in the tank for the evening’s semi-final in Gwangju.

She said: “I’m glad the first one is out the way as it’s always the hardest one! Tonight I need to rate up a little bit and not be so relaxed.”

Wilby and Murdoch coast through

In the men’s event, James Wilby and Ross Murdoch both qualified for the semi-finals in a congested field.

Murdoch was second in his heat to qualify fifth fastest in 2:09.05, while Wilby was only 0.85s slower, but went through ranked 13th.

Wilby, the silver medallist over 100m, was more than two seconds shy of his PB in what was a comfortable heat.

He is looking for his first ever world title over 200m.

Wilby said: “It was good heat swim. It’s a big 24 hours doing three 200m Breaststrokes so it’s all about being sensible, progressing through each one and being conservative where you can be conservative.

“I’m reasonably happy with that and it should be good tonight – I’m looking forward to it.”

Photo: British Swimming