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Team England book seven finals places in opening session of Commonwealth Games

Team England booked seven finals places and nine semi-finals places in the opening session of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

It was a strong start for the England Team as they head into this evening’s session in a good position to medal in a number of events on the opening day of the games.

James Wilby says he is heading into tonight’s Men’s 200m Breaststroke final in a confident mood – boosted by memories of his success at the Gold Coast 2018 Games.

Defending champion Wilby won his heat in a time of 2:11.76 and was the third fastest qualifier overall – behind world record holder Zac Stubblety-Cook and Russ Murdoch.

He said: “I’m feeling pretty confident. Obviously Zac’s going in there, he’s the world record holder.

“It is one of those races where anything can happen – almost a bit big headed to say, but my 200 in Gold Coast kind of showed that, even I wasn’t expecting it.

“So, it’s a really interesting event and it’s all for the taking.”

He recalled his victory on the Gold Coast four years ago saying: “”I still remember touching the wall and being like, ‘I’m not sure if it’s a win’.

“Then, classic, couldn’t see the board. Then I finally realised, was really happy and my mum was there to watch so that was really special.”

Greg Butler also qualified for the final, finishing seventh fastest overall in a time of 2:15.01.

Turley makes final on Commonwealth debut

England’s first success of the day came in the opening event as Luke Turley qualified for the Men’s 400m Freestyle Final after qualifying with the fifth fastest time.

Turley swum in the second of the three heats, finishing third with a time of 3:49.61.

The Bath National Centre swimmer impressed on his Commonwealth debut finishing just 2.18 off the fastest overall time set by Northern Ireland’s Daniel Wiffen.

Wolverhampton born Toby Robinson just missed out on a place in the final however.

Robinson set a time of 3:52.21 which was just outside the qualification time as he finished tenth fastest.

Turley will return to the pool this evening for the final, opening up the evening session.

Proud leads English trio into 50m Butterfly semi-finals

World 50m Freestyle Champion Ben Proud led a trio of English swimmers into the 50m Butterfly semi-finals.

Proud won his heat, which also contained England’s Adam Barrett, as he qualified for the semi-finals with a time of 23.46.

That was just 0.01 off the fastest overall time set by Australia’s Kyle Chambers meaning Proud will go into tonight’s semi-final as the second fastest qualifier.

Following his swim Proud said: “Compared to the worlds, this is more relaxed. You can be a bit calmer in the heats and semis, and then just give it a good go in the finals.

“It will be a good fight to make it into the final.”

Proud is coming off the back of his impressive World title in Budapest earlier this year but says his focus has always been these games and he’s hoping to make an impact.

“That gold medal was a little bit of a surprise… this [the Commonwealth Games] has always been the main thing [for me].

“Tonight, you are just going to see medals coming in and, as the English team, we are really looking forward to it.”

Barrett also made the semi-finals coming in as the 13th fastest swimmer with a time of 23.98 as he looks to qualify for the final which takes place on his birthday tomorrow.

Jacob Peters then made it a trio of English swimmers into the semi-finals as he won his heat with a time of 23.64.

The British Performance Centre swimmer is hoping to improve on his seventh place finish in this event back in 2018 and is got himself off to the best possible start by setting the fourth fastest overall time.

Colbert puts on a show

Freya Colbert set the standard for Team England in the Women’s 400m Individual Medley.

The Nova Centurion swimmer won her heat in a time of 4:42.64 to qualify fourth fastest for tonight’s final.

She wanted to put on a show for her watching family and friends at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre and she certainly did that, as they crowed cheered her home to pick up England’s first victory inside the new £73 million venue.

She said: “These are big opportunities [at the Commonwealth Games] like making the finals, having a home Games.

“My family, my friends are here – I wanted to put on a show for them.

“It has paid off. I’m three seconds faster than at worlds.”

World champion Summer McIntosh was the fastest qualifier in 4:36.72 and Colbert is relishing the prospect of going head-to-head against the Canadian with the backing of home support.

She added: “In the worlds Summer was in the final, I wasn’t. I’m looking forward to getting in there and giving a good go.

“I’m looking forward to competing against the other girls, see where I end up, hopefully with a PB.”

Clark second fastest in Breastroke heats

Imogen Clark set the second fastest overall time to qualify for the Women’s 50m Breastroke Final.

Clark dominated her heat, winning in a time of 30.26 and was the only swimmer to break the 31 second barrier within her race.

The only person who could better Clark’s time was South Africa’s Lara Van Niekerk who set a new Commonwealth Games record with a time of 29.82 to qualify fastest for the semi-finals.

Defending champion Sarah Vasey also made it through to tonight’s semi-finals with a time of 31.65.

She finished fourth in the same heat as Clark to come through as the tenth fastest swimmer.

Anderson takes the fight to the Australians

Freya Anderson is taking the fight to the Australians in the Women’s 200m Freestyle.

Anderson qualified fourth fastest for tonight’s final behind a trio of Aussie swimmers as she looks to challenge for a medal this evening.

The Bath National Centre swimmer qualified with a time of 1:57.59 to finish second in her heat behind the fastest swimmer Ariane Titmus.

After the race Anderson said: “It was just kind of smooth, just to blow the cobwebs away and get settled in.

“The pool felt really good so it’s exciting for tonight.

“I’m in fourth so it’s a challenge for the medals. I just have to go back, look at what I can improve on and hopefully I can go faster.”

Tamryn Van Selm also took part in the event but missed out on a place in the final by just over a second after finishing with a time of 2:01.50.

That left her as the 13th fastest swimmer overall.

Williams, Greenbank and McFadzen all make 100m Backstroke semi-finals

Another trio of English swimmers made it into the 100m Backstroke semi-finals.

Brodie Williams, Luke Greenbank and James McFadzen all qualified after impressive swims from the English team.

They all swam in the same heat with Williams coming out on top in an Team England one-two ahead of Greenbank.

Williams set a time of 54.49 with Greenbank just 0.06 behind with a time of 54.55.

That sent the pair comfortably into the semi-finals with the second and fourth fastest overall times.

McFadzen was fifth in the heat, setting a time of 55.75 which knocked 0.05 off his qualification time.

The swim was enough to take the Loughborough University swimmer into the semi-finals as the 14th fastest qualifier.

Tai gets England’s para-swimmers off to a good start

In the only para-swimming event of the morning session, Alice Tai got England off to a strong start by qualifying for the S9 100m Freestyle Final.

Tai, who is usually an S8 swimmer, is swimming up a category to compete in this event before taking part in her usual event later on in the competition.

She qualified for the final as the seventh fastest swimmer with a time of 1:09.72.

It was an impressive performance from Tai to make the final against swimmers who are less impaired which will give her a huge confidence boost ahead of the final this evening.

Holly Hibbott beats her qualification time to make semi-finals

Holly Hibbott made it into the Women’s 100m Butterfly semi-finals qualifying as the tenth fastest swimmer.

Hibbott is England’s only representative in the event and beat her qualification time by 0.81 to book her place in this evening’s session.

She was just 1.99 off the fastest overall time as the Bath National Centre swimmer competes in her second Commonwealth Games.

The 22-year old finished fourth in her heat as she came back well after being sixth at the halfway stage which was vital in her progression to the semi-finals.

Team England qualify second fastest in Relay

The session ended with a strong relay showing from England 4x100m Mixed Freestyle team.

Stepping up for England was Ed Mildred, Jacob Whittle, Isabella Hindley and Abbie Wood.

England’s team took part in the second of the three heats and edged a close battle with Wales to take the win.

Mildred got Team England off to a strong start setting a 48.99 for his leg to edge the team into an early lead.

Whittle and Hindley then held onto that slender advantage in the middle two legs before handing over to Wood who brought it home for England.

Wood extended the advantage to 1.63 over Wales as she touched the wall to send England through as the second fastest qualifiers.

The overall time from the English team was 3:28.03 which was only bettered by the Australians who set an impressive 3:22.14.