Great Britain failed to win any medals at the European Aquatics Championships in London on Friday night but Adam Peaty and Ross Murdoch set up a compelling showdown in the 50m breaststroke final after posting the fastest two times in the semi-finals.
World record holder Peaty proved he is still the man to beat in the event by clocking an impressive 26.66 seconds, just 0.04 seconds off his own Championship record, but his main competitor appears to be compatriot Murdoch whose time of 27.25 was faster than every other swimmer.
There will also be two Brits in the women’s 50m backstroke final as reigning European champion Fran Halsall and Georgia Davies both eased through but there was disappointment for Molly Renshaw in the 200m breaststroke final as she narrowly missed out on a medal by coming fourth.
Chloe Tutton also touched in sixth spot in that final while Tim Shuttleworth showed he has an incredibly bright future as the 19-year-old finished fifth in the men’s 800m freestyle.
And after once again being the star of the show in controlling the second semi-final from start to finish, Peaty was understandably delighted.
“I was confident it was going to be a fast time. I’m super stoked with that race though to be honest,” said Peaty.
“You never know with a 50m race, one mistake and it can all be over but it worked out just right for me and Ross tonight.
“I have a couple of hours to train to see what I can do to improve. I’m going to go into it and enjoy the race.”
While Peaty and Murdoch were in different semi-finals, Halsall and Davies competed in the same race and were duly the first two swimmers to touch the wall to automatically qualify for the final on the penultimate day of action at the London Aquatics Centre on Saturday.
Halsall actually laid down a personal best time of 27.80 seconds and admits the home crowd always provides a boost for her.
“I had really good start on that race. I used that to my advantage and carried it through to the finish,” said the 26-year-old.
“It’s great to be able to race here and in front of a home crowd as well. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do tomorrow night.”
Renshaw missed out on bronze by less than a quarter of a second in the 200m breaststroke final with Tutton almost a further second back.
Luke Greenbank also narrowly missed out a place in the men’s 200m backstroke final as he finished fifth in his semi-final.