Dean claims Great Britain's first medal at FINA World Championships in Budapest

Credit Simone Castrovillari

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Maidenhead's Tom Dean won Britain's first medal of the FINA World Championships on Monday, holding off challengers to take bronze in a thrilling 200m freestyle final.

The former Maidenhead Marlins Club swimmer set off in sub world record pace, clocking just 49.81 for the opening 100m.

However, while his plan had been to take it out hard, he paid for those efforts in the second half and was pipped to the finish by Romanian teenager David Popovici, 17, who won in a new world junior record of 1.43.21, with Korea’s Sunwoo Hwang second in 1:44.47.

Dean managed to hold on for bronze in a season's best time of 1.44.98 having shaved half a second off his time from the semi-final.

America's Drew Kibler was edged into fourth by 0.03 seconds.

For Dean this was another useful learning experience but also another medal won from his first World Championships to add to the two gold medals he won at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

The 22-year-old was level-headed in his post-race assessment: “It's a learning experience. My plan was to take it out hard and I paid for that gamble at the end a little bit. It was probably the hardest 200m I've done in my life, I suffered in that back end - but you roll the dice, you learn from every swim you do and it's an incredible swim from those boys too.”

Dean tried to impose himself on his rivals in the opening 100m and was almost half a body length ahead of the field at the halfway stage, having clocked an astonishing 49.81. However, sustaining that pace over the second half proved too much and he was overtaken by Popovici and Hwang.

He said: “Was I out in sub-50 seconds? Wow, there you go - people don't go out in sub-50 and come back, it hasn't happened in the world of swimming for however long. I know for a fact the world-record wasn't out in sub-50,” he added.

“The speed is there, which is good, it gives me confidence, but I need to be able to control a 50-mid or 50-low, those fine margins in this event really pay the difference later. There's no truer swimming event than the 200m Freestyle that shows that.”

Dean will now focus on his other world championship events, which include the 200m freestyle relay where Great Britain will go into the event as one of the favourites.

“It means a lot,” said Dean. “Getting on the podium is great for everyone, it lifts everyone up. I would've liked a different colour but standing up there with those boys will be an honour.

“The relays are going to be so exciting this week. It's such a strong team, we showed that in the Men's 4x100m Freestyle relay, the women's races, it's going to be good.”

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