Leah Schlosshan planning Paris Olympics bid after bowing out of juniors with another European title
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Just days after sitting exams in maths, chemistry and biology, the Bradford Grammar School pupil went to Belgrade to defend her 200m individual medley title at the European Junior Championships.
Touching the wall in a championship record time of 2.12:41, the City of Leeds Swimming Club member did exactly that and it proved the perfect ending to her time as a junior.
"I felt a bit of extra pressure going into the race, it was a different feeling to last year where I was going in not knowing what to expect,” said Schlosshan, whose win 12 months earlier in Romania helped convince her of what she is capable of.
"I’m kind of relieved as well, it’s been a tough few weeks of training, balancing A-Levels on top of the swimming so I didn’t really know what to expect with this competition.
"I also had a back injury and we only decided the week before if I was going to go or not. So getting that gold was a big relief.
"I’m ready to take the step up the ladder now. They changed the rules for junior classifications, I’d prepared myself last year to be a senior and when they changed it it was like one more shot at being a junior, which is always great because it’s more experience gained to learn from.
"I’m definitely ready to move on to the seniors.”
Her first taste of senior international swimming comes in August at the inaugural European Under-23s Championships. With no semi-finals on the schedule, just a heat and then a final for the eight fastest swimmers, it will be a short, sharp introduction to the standard of competition at the level above.
And with Olympics now a little over 12 months away, for her and her City of Leeds coach Richard Denigan, there is a huge carrot dangling in front of them.
“The Olympics are in mine and Richard’s thoughts,” said the 18-year-old.
"If it’s so far from being realistic we wouldn’t put this much effort into talking about it. I’d be a massive underdog but it’s definitely a goal.”
To achieve it she would need to shave in the region of two seconds off her personal best.
The championship record she set in Belgrade was actually 0.7 seconds slower than her fastest time, which she set in winning a bronze medal at the British Championships at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge in April.
On that occasion she was more than two seconds slower than Katie Shanahan and Abbie Wood who will represent Great Britain at the World Championships in Japan later this month.
They would be the favourites to take the individual medley slots in Paris next summer as well, but Schlosshan has until next April’s British Championships and Olympic trials to close the gap.
"The qualification time for the Olympics will be around 2.09 and the consideration time 2.10,” speculated Schlosshan, who is putting her education on hold for the next year to focus all her energies on swimming at the John Charles Aquatics Centre in Leeds.
"2.09 is world class, but it depends on what other people are swimming. With my PB I’m around two seconds off them and the time I just swam three seconds off them.
"We’ve been working on my backstroke which is traditionally my weaker leg, but I did my fastest ever backstroke split at the European Juniors.
"So I’ll give Paris my best shot.”