Golden girl Stacey leads the way in Paris

British swimming’s future Olympic hopefuls stepped up to the mark at the European Youth Olympics in Paris this evening and got off to a cracking start on the first day of competition. The squad of 13 to 16 year olds claimed a complete set of medals from the first finals session of the competition, with gold, silver and bronze combined with two new British Junior Records.

Stacey Tadd was the standout performer from the day as she took an outstanding gold medal in the 200m Breaststroke. Tadd, who trains at Bath University under team coach Andrei Vorontsov, entered the competition as the top ranked swimmer for the event and more than lived up to that billing as she set a new British Junior Record of 2:32.36. That performance brought her home more than a second clear of her nearest rival.

Head Coach Paul du Feu was delighted with the Tadd’s showing. “Stacey got a very good medal from a very good swim and it was even more exciting as she took the British Junior Record as well.”

Earlier in the session, Rebecca Adlington had set the team off to a flying start in the first event as she improved on her heat swim by over 10 seconds to take a superb silver medal. The Nova Centurions swimmer started comfortably and turned at the half way stage in fourth place, before winding up the pace to move up into the silver medal position. She was shaded by the Russian Anastasia Ivanenko, who took gold, half a second ahead of Adlington who touched home in 4:19.80, just outside her lifetime best.

”My coach told me not to go out as fast and to come back strong and that’s what I was able to do.” Adlington said after her swim. “I was closing on the Russian at the end but I couldn’t see her too well from my lane and she just touched me out, but I’m really pleased with my swim and the medal.”

The trio of medallists was completed by REN 96’s Scott Houston who capped a memorable performance by the British squad with bronze over 200m backstroke in another British Junior Record. Houston recorded a time of 2:06.19 to finish just behind the Italian winner, Simone Manni, who took gold in 2:05.11, and the Hungarian Balàzs Makany in the silver medal position.

Houston was pleased with his performance and had entered the meet with high expectations. “I was hoping I could win a medal and thought that I could take the bronze before the race.”

“I was really pleased with my swim, as I’ve not been near my PB for a while, which was the old record, so it was a relief to get back down there. I’ve hit a bit of form just at the right time.”

Meanwhile there were encouraging performances from both 4x100m freestyle relay squads who qualified for their respective finals and from Canterbury’s Lewis Owens who made the ‘B’ final for the 100m freestyle. Simon le Couillard also qualified for the 200m Individual Medley final but was unfortunately disqualified for an infringement at a turn.

Following a superb start to the meet, du Feu was in an optimistic mood for the rest of the championships.

“I thought tonight got us all off on the right footing and I think it’s going to be a very good week. The team has gelled well, they’re all working well together and we feel really good for the rest of the week.”

The European Youth Olympics, held biannually, encompasses 10 sports and over 2500 athletes are in attendance this year. The swimming competition runs until 1st August.