Wednesday, July 17, 2019

European Junior Championship Reflections

It has been a little over a week since athletes representing GBR returned home from the LEN European Junior Swimming Championships in Kazan, Russia, with 17 of the 30 swimmers securing medals and the team achieving fourth on the medal table and second overall in terms of points, a great overall team effort.

GBR alumni from the European Juniors have included the likes of Tom Dean, Freya Anderson, James Guy and Max Litchfield all of whom will be in action at the swimming event of the FINA World Championships in Korea, which starts on Sunday.  So could this be a sign of things to come for some of the youngsters?  British Swimming's Head of Elite Development and Team Leader for the event, Tim Jones, shared his thoughts,

“This was an exceptionally young group of swimmers selected on the back of their performances in Glasgow at the British Championships in March. A number of them will still be eligible and could be part of this meet for the next three years, which is exciting.

“Ultimately this is the start of their performance journey.  When we came together as a group I told them I wanted to see them making smart decisions, demonstrate first class behaviours throughout the meet and to focus on the process of the race rather than the race outcome. The results were very good but I’ve always felt if the preparation and process is managed well then the results will follow.”

For the five Scottish swimmers on the team, Emma Russell, Katie Shanahan, Lauren Wetherell, Archie Goodburn and Charlie Hutchison, the Kazan experience has been a positive one, and one they will both learn and develop from going forward.

Goodburn (Warrender Baths Club), who will compete at the World Junior Championships in Budapest next month, said,

“I had a great time out in Kazan with an even better group of people, both coaches and athletes. We all bonded so well and this provided an awesome vibe which spurred us on in the evening sessions. It was great to come away from last juniors with an individual medal and being so close to winning gold (he won silver in 50m breast, 0.12 behind gold) has provided me with some hunger look towards world juniors in August.”

Emma Russell of Hearts said of her experience,

“It was a great experience and I really enjoyed it. I learnt a lot about the importance of the process of the swim. I was also lucky to meet some amazing coaches and teammates. Winning a medal (silver as part of the 4x200m free team) topped it off.  I went in to the meet expecting to just swim my best and think about the process but to win a medal was just great.”

Lauren Wetherell (Ellesmere Titans) said,

“I had a lot of fun on my first team, proud of my 8th place finish in the 800 and my first medal in the 4x200 relay. I will now put a lot more focus on the processes and my tactics and as ever everyone for all the support.”

Wetherell’s Ellesmere team-mate, Charlie Hutchison, said of his second European Junior experience,

“I loved racing at my second euro juniors, and it was just as good as the first time. However, the level of competition was even higher than last time.  I will definitely take away the positives of being part of such a strong team knowing that everybody will be back next year, better than the last, and all together.”

Katie Shanahan from City of Glasgow Swim Team, was one of the youngest competitors on the team and won Bronze in the 400m IM; she said,

“Russia was an experience in itself and to be selected as part of the GB team was an honour. It’s my first time of having to swim in heats, semi-finals and finals and with such strong competition it was tough to step up each time. I really enjoyed working with new coaches and I’ve made lots of new friends. It was a great team and I’m happy with what I’ve achieved.”

With a number of former European Junior athletes now in Gwangju, does Jones see a bright future for some of this group of young athletes? He concluded,

“This was a team with lots of personality who had a lot of fun and became very close and supportive of one another. It is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility for some of this group to progress from Kazan and put pressure on those above them, and seriously challenge for places in the senior team next year. “

Katie Shanahan has been selected as part of the GB Team at the upcoming European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku, while Archie Goodburn is part of the GB team competing at the FINA World Junior Championships in Budapest in August.

The finale of the domestic swimming season is at the British Summer Championships, which take place at Tollcross International Swimming Centre in Glasgow from 23rd – 28th July, the full details of this meet can be found HERE.