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27 March 2007 PR 07/42

Loughborough’s Tancock clinches world champs bronze

Loughborough University swimmer Liam Tancock proved his world-class credentials by claiming bronze in the men’s 100 metres backstroke at the world swimming championships in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Commonwealth champion Tancock followed up his strong semi-final performance by again bursting out of the blocks and leading at the turn under world record pace, before world and Olympic champion Aaron Peirsol produced a stunning turn of speed in the final 10 metres to touch first and break his own world record.

Peirsol clocked 52.98 seconds, almost 0.2 seconds inside the previous record, with his U.S. team mate Ryan Lochte second in 53.50 while Tancock clinched bronze with 53.61 seconds, breaking the British and Commonwealth record of 53.71 he set in qualifying for the final.

“I tried very hard in the competition, it was a very tough field and I’m pretty excited about it. I’m happy for the bronze,” said Tancock.

“I’m fighting against those strong swimmers to show them who I am on the world stage. And I think I did it.”

“I want to improve and get myself ready for next year’s competition (2008 Beijing Olympics).”

Tancock’s bronze meets the Olympic qualifying standards set down by British swimming before the championships began, with any swimmer achieving a fourth-placed finish or better automatically making the squad for Beijing. The policy, however, still needs approval from the British Olympic Association.

University director of swimming Ian Armiger said he was pleased with the 21-year-old Tancock’s performance as it now placed him in the world’s elite.

“He was always a good swimmer but I think since he has been here at Loughborough he has really matured and he has proved that now by racing in world-class finals,” said Armiger.

“He has some really good basic speed, as you can see in his first 50 metres, and that is only good for the sprint event later on.”

Loughborough’s Kate Haywood finished seventh in the women’s 100 breaststroke, in a time of one minute 8.72 seconds, just outside the personal best she achieved in qualifying. British team mate Kirsty Balfour was fifth, behind Australia’s world champion Leisel Jones.

Double Commonwealth champion Caitlin McClatchey, who just missed out on qualifying for the women’s 400 freestyle final, produced a strong final 50 metres to finish second in her 200 freestyle semi-final in a time of one minute 57.86 seconds.

Italy’s Federica Pellegrini was the fastest qualifier, with a world record of 1:56.47 in the second semi-final, ensuring that McClatchey’s University team mate Mel Marshall missed qualifying, with five swimmers from Pellegrini’s race making Wednesday’s final.

“I’m really pleased for Caitlin after the 400,” said Armiger. “That’s just outside her lifetime best and she should not be written off as a medal chance.”

Ends

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Notes to editors

Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough in the top five among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

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