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O’Connor strikes gold in Belgrade

6 July 2011

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor won the first gold medal for the British Gas GBR Swimming Team, at the European Junior Championships in Belgrade, winning a dramatic 400m Individual Medley on the first day of competition.

The British Gas ITC Bath swimmer - who is set to make her senior international debut at next month's World Championships in Shanghai - led from the gun, giving a commanding performance and taking three seconds off her personal best to take the title in 4.46.61.

She said: “I am really happy with that swim. I knew I had to go for it and lead from the start so I really took it out in the first 200m and was able keep it up.

“It was a great start to the meet for me, as the 200m Individual Medley is my focus event. 

“I didn’t swim well here last year so I wanted to make amends this year and definitely did.” 

She finished ahead of Hungary’s Sara Joo (4.48.25) and Kristina Krasyukova (4.49.80)

Kingston-upon-Hull's Rachael Williamson smashed her personal best to take the bronze medal in the 800m Freestyle, in a really gutsy performance.

Williamson, who ranked fifth going into the final, was delighted to take over six seconds off her previous best time, touching in 8.44.10 behind Poland’s Donata Kilijanska and Esmee Vermeulen of the Netherlands. 

“I was aiming for 8.47 so I’m so happy with that,” Williamson said.” I won a relay medal here last year but it is great to get an individual one.” 

There were a number of other British finalists in action tonight including City of Cardiff's Ieuan Lloyd and Northampton's Myles Crouch-Anderson finished fourth and fifth respectively in the 400m Freestyle.

Lloyd said: “I had a strong final 100m but it wasn’t quite enough. I’ve got the relays later and the 200m IM tomorrow so I’ll see how they go.”

After qualifying through from the heats in 33.02, Wirral Metro's Danielle Lowe progressed through the semi finals before finishing sixth in the 50m Butterfly final with a time of 32.70.

The said: “I’m pleased to have made the finals in my first European Junior Championships. I wanted to progress through each round and I improved on my times from this morning so that’s good.”

The boys 4x100m Freestyle quartet of Felix Samuels, Adam Rowe, Gareth Mills and Lloyd team finished in fifth place after taking nearly a second off the time they set in the heats. 

Mark Perry, British Swimming Development Coach, was pleased with the first day of competition.

“Today was a fantastic start for the team,” Perry said. “There were some outstanding individual swims and on the whole, there was a good block of impressive performances.

“There were two standout swims in the finals session, Siobhan swam really well in very challenging circumstances to take the gold medal and Rachael swam an extremely gutsy 800m to take bronze.

“I’m looking forward to another good day tomorrow.”

Results and live coverage of the event can be found on www.belgrade2011.rs

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