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Team GB swimmers come home after most successful Olympics

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA</span>
Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

British swimming Olympians have landed back in the UK from Tokyo after returning from their most successful Games.

Team GB finished third in the swimming medal table behind the US and Australia. They won eight medals this past week. The squad returned with a haul of four golds, beating the UK’s previous best performance, at the 1908 Games in London.

They also brought back three silvers and a bronze, bettering their previous best tally in the pool of seven.

Related: ‘We are upset to come second’: how culture change lifted GB swimming | Andy Bull

Medal performances in Tokyo included gold and a world record in the first ever Olympic mixed 4x100m medley relay, a historic gold and silver for Tom Dean and Duncan Scott in the 200m freestyle – the first time since 1908 that Britain have secured a first and second finish in the Olympic pool – and gold for Adam Peaty in the 100m breaststroke, which saw him become the first Briton to defend an Olympic swimming title.

With one gold and three silvers, Scott also became the first British athlete from any sport to win four medals at one Olympic Games.

At a press conference at Heathrow airport, Peaty, who said he was still annoyed not to have beaten the US in the medley relay, said the British team were “no longer scared of winning” and other countries now knew they were the ones to beat. He also said he had been “handed champagne all the way home” and had not had time to reflect on his victory yet.

“I’m going to take a few months off from the sport,” Peaty added. “I’ve been pushing for so long, so it’s an outrageous amount of effort from not only myself but from my team. To be part of this team is very special.”

Earlier he said: “I’m so proud to be part of this incredible team. We all support each other in and out of the pool and our success is down to this and the amazing support from everyone involved.

“My goal was to defend my Olympic title and I achieved that, but it was about so much more than me – I did it for my country, my son and my family and for all those people who need a bit of light.”

He said the support of the national lottery had played a “huge part” in the success. “I came on the World Class Performance Programme in 2012 and that support has helped get me where I am today and ensures that I continued to benefit from best-in-class training facilities and a world-class coach in Mel Marshall,” he said. “It’s that backing that has helped the whole team deliver in Tokyo.”

Jack Buckner, chief executive of British Swimming, agreed and said: “The national lottery funding has been absolutely critical to the success and the outstanding performances we have seen in the pool in Tokyo. A little bit of those medals belongs to everyone who has bought a national lottery ticket, because without them we wouldn’t have even been able to get a team on a plane to Tokyo.”

Buckner said the funding and support had been particularly valuable during the pandemic as they had to make some “big decisions on resources”. “The funding has transformed not just swimming but British Olympic and Paralympic sport and the foundations are there for swimming to enjoy continued success,” he said.

Sally Munday, chief executive of UK Sport, said the team’s extraordinary performances had created “amazing memories for sports fans across the nation back home”.

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