Britain’s team of swimmers at the European Youth Olympic Festival continued to add to their already impressive haul of medals on the third day of competition in Paris, as the squad scooped a further two silvers and two bronze medals. Julie Gould and Francesca Halsall both took their second podium places of the meet while there were first medal successes for Chris Alderton and Simon le Couilliard.
Alderton, of Durham Aquatics, was making his first appearance of the competition as he contested the 1500m freestyle. The British Junior Record Holder looked in great shape as he cruised home in a personal best time of 15:48.31 to take the silver medal behind Gergo Kiss of Hungary, who took gold in 15.33.08.
“I’m really pleased to have swum a best time. The race went really well at the start and even though I started to feel a bit tired towards the end I dug in and still brought it home quite fast” he said.
The Durham swimmer was well clear of the third placed Russian Maxim Luchinov and with Kiss opening up a commanding lead, was forced to swim most of the race effectively on his own.
“After about 500m there was a big gap in front of me and behind me which made it a bit harder, but it didn’t bother me. I expected to get a best time and to get a medal as well is just a great bonus for me.”
Meanwhile an ecstatic Julie Gould won her second medal of the competition as she took silver in the 400m Individual Medley to add to her bronze from the 200m event earlier in the week. Her time of 4:57.51 was a personal best by nearly four seconds and also broke the Welsh Junior Record, as she came home in a clear second behind another Hungarian, Erika Hajnal, who recorded 4:56.22 for the win.
“I’m very happy with my swim today and I’m really pleased to have got a Welsh Junior record as well. I thought I could maybe come third but silver was really unexpected.” Gould said afterwards. “Winning the medal in the 200 earlier in the week really gave me confidence for today and the whole race felt a lot easier than I had expected.”
The other multiple medallist of the day was City of Liverpool’s Francesca Halsall, who doubled up on the sprint freestyle events as she took a bronze in the 50m event to go with her earlier third place in the 100m race. Halsall set another lifetime best as she posted 27.03 for the one length sprint.
The final British medal of the day was a well deserved bronze in the 200m butterfly for Jersey Tigers’ Simon le Couilliard. His time of 2:05.15 was within a whisker of his lifetime best as he held off the fast finishing Pole Michal Zarczynski to take the third podium place. The race was won by yet another Hungarian, as this time Norbet Kovacs took the plaudits in 2:03.82.
“I’m a little disappointed not to quite get a PB, but I’m really pleased with the medal.” he said. “The race itself was pretty good, I took it out slower than the heats but brought it home much better and was able to hold off the fourth placed guy at the end.”
Earlier in the week le Couilliard had been disqualified from the 200m Individual Medley and was determined to make amends in this, his favoured event, in which he is the British Junior Record Holder. “I was disappointed with that disqualification and it really motivated me. I was really up for the race because I wanted to show everyone what I could do.”
Britain was also represented in three other finals in the evening session with Charlotte Wright the pick of the bunch as she took fourth spot in the 200m freestyle, while Mark Branch and Hollie O’Connor both took sixth places in the 100m breaststroke and 100m backstroke respectively. Elsewhere, Lewis Owens was equal fourth in the ‘B’ final of the 50m Freestyle.
Britain’s National Youth Coach John Atkinson was delighted with what the team have achieved; with one day of competition remaining the squad one short of the medal haul achieved two years ago in Murcia.
“It’s been very pleasing so far with three days down and eleven medals won already. The team have had a lot of personal best times and it’s been really good to see the athletes swimming faster in finals than heats”
“I’m also really pleased to see both the girls and the boys winning medals, which has got to be good for the future of British swimming.”
National Performance Director Bill Sweetenham echoed his sentiments wholeheartedly. “It’s great to have won so many medals and with fast swimming as well, which is a great indicator for British swimming. I think the results from Paris are very, very exciting. The swimmers have exceeded my expectations and it has been a very pleasant step up from where I thought we were.”