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ejc 2004: relay bronze tempers first day disappointments

Britain’s junior swimmers came down to earth with a bump on the first night of the European Junior Championships in Lisbon. That’s not to say that their performance was bad, just that it failed to live up to the sky high expectations the swimmers have set for themselves following some extraordinary results at Olympic Trials and at the Australian Age Group Championships.
The highlight of the first evening session was the bronze medal won by the girls 4x200m freestyle relay team of Stephanie Proud, Danielle Berry, Lorna Smith, and Lorna Tonks who completed the course in 8:15.20, finishing behind winners Russia and runners up Hungary. The British quartet were well ahead of fourth placed finishers Slovenia and will be pleased to have improved their standing from the heats where the same team qualified in 6th spot.
In the evening’s other finals it was a case of near misses for many of the team. In the 50m breaststroke, Rachel Wilson came home in 4th, just 0.28s off the bronze medal, while teammate Yasmin Holmes also finalled, finishing in 6th place. Steph Johnson was fourth finisher in the girls 200 fly in 2:14.44, while European Youth Olympics medallist Julie Gould found the step up in competition tough, but still managed seventh in the final of the 400 individual medley in 4:54.93.
Amongst the boys the best result came in the 4×100 freestyle relay when Lewis Owens, Ed Denton, Andrew Hodgson and Dean Milwain teamed up to take 5th place. There were no other finalists from the boys’ team, with Milwain likely to be disappointed with his swim in the 200 freestyle; having entered the competition as second seed, he missed out on the final.
Meanwhile there was encouragement from the night’s semi-finals with five swimmers booking their places in tomorrow’s finals. Britain’s best medal hope will be Stephanie Proud, who qualified fastest for the 100m backstroke final wand will be looking to add to the gold she that won at last year’s event. Also through were Lorna Smith, who was the 6th qualifier and Lorna Tonks who was 5th fastest into the 100m freestyle final. From the boys team, much will be expected from the fly pairing of Michael Rock and Matthew Edwards who advanced third and fourth fastest into the 100m final, but Chris Watkinson narrowly missed out in the 100m breaststroke, coming home in 9th place in the semis.