01:30PM, Monday 01 August 2022
Tom Dean (second left) and the silver medal winning 4x100m freestyle mixed relay team.
The volume at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Birmingham peaked for the much-anticipated final of the men's 200m freestyle on Saturday evening, and on this occasion, Scotland's Duncan Scott claimed revenge over Team England's Tom Dean, who took silver.
Dean famously edged out his GB teammate to become Olympic champion in Tokyo almost a year ago to the day, but - having recovered from a debilitating bout of COVID earlier this season - it was Scott who powered through the water to take gold on this occasion.
He beat his good friend with a time of 1.45.02 and was back in the pool later in the evening to take bronze in the 400m individual medley.
Dean looked on track to take gold once again as he turned in front after the first 100m, but Scott came back at Dean over the second half of the race and passed him before 150m to win by just 0.39seconds. Dean finished in 1.45.31 for his first ever Commonwealth Games medal.
He said: "Obviously I wanted that gold, and I knew it was going to be a tight race with Duncan but we're one-two at a major international competition again. It's just how we like to do things, just like the Olympics last year, so it was always going to be a good race.
"The friendship comes before the rivalry. We're great pals in and out of the pool, it's a healthy competition which is going to be good for the sport, good for Great Britain when we do come together and good for the Commonwealth sport showing what we're capable of.
"We push each other on, and I can't seem to get away from him. And while that can be annoying sometimes, it's only a good thing and I'll look back on it with fond memories."
On winning his first medal of the Games, he added: "It's so special. My first individual medal for Team England, my first time wearing the Team England tracksuit on the podium has been this week and it's a different vibe to when you're representing Team GB or British Swimming. That makes it even more exciting."
Dean won another silver with Lewis Burras, Anna Hopkin and Freya Anderson in the 4x100m freestyle mixed relay. The team touched home just behind Australia in a time of 3:22.45 and the Maidenhead swimmer then paid tribute to the home crowd.
“It's exciting to break into a home Games like that,” he said. “The reception was incredible. We're walking away with a silver medal which is obviously a great achievement but it sounds like we've just broken a world record and won a gold medal. It's really special to be part of that.
"The whole energy around this is bigger than any other competition we've been a part of. Everyone's calling it the biggest thing since London 2012.
"It's getting the coverage we want, there are eyes on swimming, eyes on the English stars and that's only going to do great things for the sport.
"That's a responsibility that I'm grateful to have and I'm fortunate to be in a position where I can carry that into my swims and try to lead by example."
Tom Dean knows he must expand his repertoire if he is to challenge for international medals in the future and later today (Monday) he is set to race in the 100m freestyle final in Birmingham, where he'll come up against Duncan Scott once again.
It's an event he's only started to take seriously this year, qualifying for the final second fastest.
He believes the successful expansion of his programme will give him the chance to win multiple medals on the biggest stage.
He explained: “I love the 100, it’s just a bit of fun for me. It feels like a sprint, a splash and dash, coming from that slightly longer base. It’s my first time under 48 seconds (47.83), so it’s exciting and it bodes really well for the final tomorrow. I feel like there’s more to come.
“The 200 becomes a priority of mine but off the back of that you naturally have a good 100. You have that ease of speed. The 100 is really coming into the picture and one of the reasons I’m focusing on it is the relay opportunities it opens up. More races mean more medal opportunities and that’s what we’re in it for.
“It has been tough; it’s been a really challenging schedule with the Worlds.
If I say I’m doing five events, that means 12 or 13 races over six or so days with all the heats and semis. It starts to take it out of you towards the back end. But the reason for doing it now is that we’re two years from Paris and we’ll be able to hone in on what I want to execute there.”
Dean and Scott are also set to go head-to-head in the 200m individual medley at the end of the week in what is becoming one of British sport's great rivalries.
Dean added: “I can’t seem to get away from this boy [Duncan]. He’s an incredible freestyle swimmer, I know he’ll be strong in that event, and him coming in fresh tomorrow will be a different game.”
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