What Could a GB U23 Team Look Like?

As well as the world championships in Fukuoka, 2023 brings with it a new competition from LEN in the shape of an under-23 European Championships, due to be held in Dublin from August 10th to 13th. That time slot places it just after the swimming element of the world championships concludes on 30th July so it’s not likely to attract those swimmers who are making the trip to Japan, but then that’s not the intent of this meet.

Other sports, notably athletics, have long had a championship aimed at this age group, reflecting the fact that track athletes have tended to find it tougher moving from junior to senior ranks. Swimming meanwhile was for many years dominated by younger competitors, and world and Olympic rolls of honour are littered with teenagers and those in their early twenties. That is changing however, and we are seeing swimmers stay in the sport for longer, but at the same time the jump from junior to senior ranks can still be a daunting one.

An under 23 meet is hence aimed at providing a bridge between the two and giving those in that transitional phase where they are too old for European and World junior championships, but not yet established in the senior ranks a target. It also provides an end of season focus for those who have been frozen out of the year’s major meet by the 2 per nation limits imposed by most international competitions. This fits well with the philosophy of the senior European Championships which allow four swimmers per nation into heats.

Embed from Getty Images Lily Booker is a swimmer who might benefit from the introduction of the U23 championships

LEN says that this was a meet that was asked for by coaches, but it’s not clear if that included Britain or indeed if GB will attend. Certainly no selection policy has been put forward at the time of writing. One would expect that if GB is to send a team, selection will come from the British Championships at Easter and a selection policy would need to be in place before then.

So what could a GB team look like? Britain might look to use it to give senior athletes not going to worlds a chance, or perhaps more likely given the nature of selection decisions of the Spice/Furniss era, to look at up-and-coming swimmers, which may well mean a focus on the cohort funded on the world class programme.

Let’s take it at face value however and consider what a team for a meet like this might have looked like in 2022. The age criteria is being under 23 at the end of the year so includes all those born in 2001 or later, with no lower age limit stated. That being the case, a team picked as the highest two finishers in each event at the British Championships, who did not travel to the World Championships, and who would be eligible by age for this meet, would be as shown below. The swimmers highlighted green are those who were picked for 2023 Podium Potential funding.

Alex CohoonAlexander Painter50m FreestyleEvelyn DavisEmma Russell
Ed MildredAlex Cohoon100m FreestyleEvelyn DavisEmma Russell
William BellEd Mildred200m FreestyleTamryn Van SelmMia Slevin
William BellHector Pardoe400m FreestyleMia SlevinTamryn Van Selm
Hector PardoeWilliam Bell800m FreestyleLeah CrispFleur Lewis
Hector PardoeWilliam Bell1500m FreestyleFleur LewisLeah Crisp
Seb SomersetOliver Morgan50m BackstrokeLauren CoxLeah Whittaker
Jonathan AdamCameron Brooker100m BackstrokeLauren CoxPia Murray
Cameron BrookerCharlie Brown200m BackstrokeKatie ShanahanHolly McGill
Archie GoodburnBradley Newman50m BreaststrokeKatie GoodburnSienna Robinson
Archie GoodburnEllot Woodburn100m BreaststrokeKayla Van Der MerweLily Booker
Harvey FreemanGeorge Smith200m BreaststrokeLily BookerYvonne Brown
Joshua GammonSebastian Rawes50m ButterflySophie YendellKeanna MacInnes
Ed MildredJoshua Gammon100m ButterflyKeanna MacInnesLucy Grieve
Hector PardoeRhys Edwards200m ButterflyKeanna MacInnesEmily Large
Evan JonesKaden Edwards200m IMLily BookerKatie Shanahan
Kaden EdwardsCharlie Hutchinson400m IMLily BookerKatie Shanahan

This won’t be the team in 2023 of course; if nothing else we might expect the likes of Katie Shanahan, Ed Mildred, Lauren Cox and Keanna MacInnes, all of whom represented GB at the senior European Championships in Rome last year, to be pressing for World Championships selection, but this may prove a useful fall back if they don’t reach the high selection standards that have been set for Fukuoka.

In addition, it’s not certain a team of this size would head to this meet, even if it’s only across the water in Dublin, and if GB does attend, funding may mean a more compact team would be selected. This is though a great opportunity to provide a motivation to keep swimmers in the sport and give space to develop those who flourish later. One only has to look at Abbie Wood and Luke Greenbank who struggled to make it in senior waters after stellar junior careers to appreciate how important that can be.

Banner Image: Katie Shanahan, Keanna MacInnes & Ed Mildred: Composite from ISL/Mike Lewis