Schlosshan shines as Great Britain’s youngsters impress in Belgrade

Defending champion Leah Schlosshan set a new European Junior Swimming Championships record as Great Britain’s youngsters impressed on the international stage.

The City of Leeds swimmer’s gold medal winning performance in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley was the highlight of the European Junior Swimming Championships for the British team in Belgrade.

Schlosshan clocked 2:12.41 on the final day of the event in Belgrade to top the podium ahead of her compatriot Phoebe Cooper, who finished second in 2:13.28.

“I am really happy I was able to defend my title from last year,” said Schlosshan. “It’s just a tiny bit off my best time, but I’m happy with the swim.

“This result show that my trainings are consistent. The Olympics is in the next year, so I will continue my trainings, I will see what I able to do next year.”

Great Britain’s 34-strong team claimed a total of 11 medals during the six-day competition at the Milan Gale Muškatirović sport and recreation centre.

The Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay team of Eva Okaro, Erin Little, Skye Carter and Cooper kickstarted the British medal haul as they earned third place in a last gasp dash to the wall.

Blythe taken aback

Britain clocked 3:43.37 to finish behind Italy and Hungary and only 0.29 seconds ahead of the fourth-placed Germans

Laurie Devine was also awarded a bronze medal having swum in the heats.

On day two, Matthew Ward won a bronze medal after clocking 25.16 in the Men’s 50m Backstroke final.

That was followed by a a silver in the women’s version of the same race from Mount Kelly’s Blythe Klinsman who was left feeling shocked when she saw the result.

She said: “When I saw the time come up on the board, I was like ‘oh my gosh, is that real?’ – I was taken aback. 

“To step up on a big stage like this is really important. It gives me a lot of confidence going into bigger competitions in the future.”

Rounding off a hat-trick of medals on day two was 14-year-old Amelie Blocksidge, who finished second in the Women’s 1500m Freestyle.

Really excited

Reigning British champion Blocksidge impressed on her first international outing but was beaten to the gold by Turkey’s Merve Tuncel.

City of Salford swimmer Blocksidge said: “I’m so happy, it was quite unexpected to me. 

“I wasn’t expecting to be on the podium in my first European Juniors (and first race) so I’m really pleased and really excited to be here.

“It was a big dream to come here.”

Mount Kelly’s Ward returned to the podium on day three of the event as he won bronze in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley in a time of 2:01.17.

He said: “It’s an amazing feeling to finally have achieved some stuff in that event. 

“I wasn’t sure if I was going to race it and I’m happy that I made the decision to do it. 

Another level

“There’s still a few things to work on, but it just feels like now I can take it up another level. 

“Next year’s an Olympic year, so with that in mind it’s very exciting.”

Basildon Phoenix’s Carter added an individual gong to the relay medal she won on the opening day with a bronze in the Women’s 50m Freestyle.

Six swimmers were separated by only 0.16 seconds with Carter taking the final podium place after clocking 25.41 – 0.01 ahead of Slovakia’s Alexandra Hrncarova.

On day four, Ward, Carter and Cooper were joined by Oscar Bilbao for the Mixed 4x100m Medley and they sealed silver in 3:53.74 – 3.70 seconds behind the victorious Denmark team.

Holly McGill also won a silver for Britain in the Women’s 200m Backstroke.

Ward claimed his third medal on the final day of the event, finishing in a time of 54.61 to take bronze in the Men’s 100m Backstroke final.

Pictures: István Derencsény/LEN