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Junior athletes on form at Speedo Aquatics GB Swimming Championships

Last week’s Speedo Aquatics GB Swimming Championships saw a number of upcoming stars standout on a national stage against the biggest names from across Great Britain.

Whilst some of the more senior swimmers were targeting the Olympics and Paralympics in Paris next summer, the Championships also showcased the future of British Swimming with plenty of junior athletes excelling in London.

Across the six days, 41 young swimmers set times that went under the nomination time for the European Junior Championships this summer with many more setting personal bests in the nation’s capital.

To have qualified for the meet was an incredible achievement in itself but some of the youngest swimmers at the competition ended up coming away with outstanding results from the London Aquatics Centre.

Amongst those was City of Salford swimmer Amelie Blocksidge, who won two senior British titles at a then just 14-years of age.

The now 15-year-old – who celebrated her birthday this week – started off her competition by defending her 1500m Freestyle senior British title on the second night of racing.

She took the race out hard and, despite the challenge of Fleur Lewis, held her pace to lead all the way to the wall.

On the final day she then notched her second British title of the meet the weekend in the Women’s 800m Freestyle.

Just like in her 1500m triumph, she led from the front to finish comfortably ahead of Lewis for silver and Michaella Glenister for bronze.

It was a race which she attacked from start to finish, which was topped off by setting a new British age group record time of 8:32.61.

After her 1500m triumph, she told Aquatics GB: “That means a lot. I was really nervous before the race – it was only pressure I was putting on myself, there’s not any pressure anybody else is putting on me. I’m really glad to regain my title!

“All my family just support me throughout anything – even if I was to add a minute on to my time, or get a PB, they’d support me either way, so it’s really nice.”

Morgan British best and Okaro’s superb silvers

Reed’s Max Morgan was in fine form in London after he touched the wall in 2:13.88 for fifth place overall in the for the Men’s 200m Breaststroke.

The 16-year-old split 1:04.66/1:09.22 in the senior final to set a new age group best of 2:13.88 to go comfortably under the European Junior nomination time.

He also made the Paris final in the 100m event where he matched his finish and once again hit a British Junior record swim.

He set a 1:00.83 to finish as the fastest overall junior just ahead of Tigers Jersey swimmer Filip Nowacki – who also made the senior final.

Repton’s 18-year-old speedster Eva Okaro went one further with two silver medals in the Women’s 50m and 100m Freestyle events.

In the 100m she broke her personal best twice in one day as she moved from a time of 54.60 in the heats to a 54.46 in the senior final.

Only Olympic gold medallist Anna Hopkin could deny her of gold in both events after she dashed home in the 50m event in less than 25 seconds.

She clocked in at 24.96 with Team England Commonwealth Youth Games star Skye Carter also impressing in fourth. Basildon Pheonix’s teenage swimmer finished in 25.34 as she narrowly missed out on a podium place despite a stunning swim.

Making their mark

Lucy Fox was one of a number of other swimmers to make her mark at the Championships.

She made the Paris final in the Women’s 200m Butterfly final where she set a European Junior time nomination time of 2:13.62. Her effort in the 400m Freestyle also saw her make the senior final where she finished in fourth place just behind Blocksidge – who took the overall second spot. Phoebe Cooper also set nomination times in both those events as well as in the 200m Individual Medley.

Chelsea & Westminster’s quartet of Edward Marcel-Whittles, Henry Gray, Nick Finch and Martyna Karabacz all put themselves in contention to head to the European Junior Championships this summer.

Gray and Finch were two of six swimmers to meet the time in the Men’s 100m Freestyle Junior final as they matched the speed and intensity of the senior race.

Finch also set nomination times in the 100m butterfly and 50m freestyle whilst gray hit the mark in both the 100m and 200m butterfly. Marcel-Whittles joined Gray as going under the selection mark in the 200m butterfly as well as setting a strong time in the 400m individual medley.

Martyna Karabacz stood out by making the senior final and finishing seventh in the country in the Women’s 100m Backstroke whilst Mount Kelly’s Hollie Widdows was sixth overall in the Women’s 100m Butterfly. She broke the one-minute barrier with a time of 59.83 in a thrilling race.

In the para-swimming events, 13-year-old Iona Winnifrith was one of those that went above and beyond in London.

S7 swimmer, Winnifrith, tied points-wise (995) with Brock Whiston in the 100m breaststroke in a time of 1:31.58, lowering her own senior SB7 national record in the process.

The pair shared the British title with Winnifirth one of a number of swimmers to set Paralympic nomination times across the six days.

You can watch back the Speedo Aquatics GB Swimming Championships action online throughout on the C4 Sport YouTube channel as well as on BBC Sport and BBC iPlayer. The results from the competition are also available here and our review of all those who booked Paris 2024 places at the event can be found here.

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