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.
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 Cohoon||Alexander Painter||50m Freestyle||Evelyn Davis||Emma Russell|
|Ed Mildred||Alex Cohoon||100m Freestyle||Evelyn Davis||Emma Russell|
|William Bell||Ed Mildred||200m Freestyle||Tamryn Van Selm||Mia Slevin|
|William Bell||Hector Pardoe||400m Freestyle||Mia Slevin||Tamryn Van Selm|
|Hector Pardoe||William Bell||800m Freestyle||Leah Crisp||Fleur Lewis|
|Hector Pardoe||William Bell||1500m Freestyle||Fleur Lewis||Leah Crisp|
|Seb Somerset||Oliver Morgan||50m Backstroke||Lauren Cox||Leah Whittaker|
|Jonathan Adam||Cameron Brooker||100m Backstroke||Lauren Cox||Pia Murray|
|Cameron Brooker||Charlie Brown||200m Backstroke||Katie Shanahan||Holly McGill|
|Archie Goodburn||Bradley Newman||50m Breaststroke||Katie Goodburn||Sienna Robinson|
|Archie Goodburn||Ellot Woodburn||100m Breaststroke||Kayla Van Der Merwe||Lily Booker|
|Harvey Freeman||George Smith||200m Breaststroke||Lily Booker||Yvonne Brown|
|Joshua Gammon||Sebastian Rawes||50m Butterfly||Sophie Yendell||Keanna MacInnes|
|Ed Mildred||Joshua Gammon||100m Butterfly||Keanna MacInnes||Lucy Grieve|
|Hector Pardoe||Rhys Edwards||200m Butterfly||Keanna MacInnes||Emily Large|
|Evan Jones||Kaden Edwards||200m IM||Lily Booker||Katie Shanahan|
|Kaden Edwards||Charlie Hutchinson||400m IM||Lily Booker||Katie 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