Swimming: Euro medals-fest is just a taste of things to come

City of Leeds Swimming Club's Amelia Clynes,Georgia Coates and Layla Black.
City of Leeds Swimming Club's Amelia Clynes,Georgia Coates and Layla Black.
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After an incredible European Games in Baku, where City of Leeds Swimming Club members Georgia Coates, Amelia Clynes and Layla Black excelled, there is plenty to look forward to in the coming year.

Coach Richard Denigan admits that he can never be totally confident of medals going into a European meeting, as you can never know how athletes will react to the pressure of elite competition.

A well as their inexperience, Denigan said that both Clynes, 15, and Coates, 16, had achieved their success whilst balancing swimming commitments with school work.

Denigan said: “Amelia and Georgia have had to balance training with working towards their GCSEs, so for them to have won as many medals as they did (three and five medals respectively) is a great achievement.

“Georgia had a particularly gruelling schedule, taking part in 15 races overall.”

Fourteen-year-old Black was the only one of the three competing in her maiden international meet, and she acquitted herself exceptionally well, winning bronze in the 200m breaststroke and the 4x100m medley relay. She also broke three British age-group records in the process.

All three were part of the formidable 4x100m medley relay squad that won bronze, and although Rio 2016 is on the horizon, Denigan stressed that focusing on training was the priority.

He added that the majority of Olympic swimmers make their debuts between the ages of 15 to 19.

Having said this, Tokyo 2020 seems a far more realistic target. These three swimmers are not the only ones who making waves at the John Charles Centre for Sport.

Sophie Hobbah is heading to the European Youth Olympic Festival in Georgia.

She will compete in the 200m backstroke and 200m medley and has battled back admirably following an anaemia diagnosis over Christmas and has managed to get back to the times she managed before the diagnosis.

In all, Denigan believes that there are at least eight swimmers who are in the top five in the country for their age group.

Although the club has had successful spells in the past, there has rarely been a time when so many of their members are in contention for medals at either national or international meets.

The team have the British Summer Championships in Sheffield to look forward to, and are taking a 30-strong squad to that event.

Those who are likely to be challenging for gold include distance freestyler Leah Crisp, medley swimmer Ciara Schlosshan and Harry Devlin, who specialises in breaststroke.

However, as many as 20 of the squad could get on the rostrum.

Aquatics co-ordinators and managers at the club aid this progression and the system in place enables coaches to quickly identify potential stars and implement training regimes that are tailored to the individual.

Denigan attributes the huge success of the club to the organisation structure it has in place. He said: “The club operates as one system – from swimming lessons right up to the elite level.”

The club has rarely been in such rude health and, if the unity and camaraderie within the club can be maintained, then it is likely to be successful for years to come.