golden start for youth olympians

Britain again showed off its impressive junior swimming contingent at the European Youth Olympic Festival as the squad of 14 and 15 year olds bagged 5 medals on the first night of competition. The girls’ team was in the forefront in Ligano, Italy, taking 4 of the five medals including three gold.
Ceri Unwin provided the perfect start for the British squad as she took gold in the first final of the day. The Hatfield swimmer set a British age group record of 4:16.48 of the 400m freestyle to take the top podium finish. Unwin’s performance was soon matched by Beckenham’s Ellen Gandy, reaping the benefits of time at the Mare Nostrum Tour, who took gold in the 100m butterfly in 1:02.60.
Gandy was joined by Beckenham team mate Chloe Hart, Lizzie Simmonds and Lauren Collins for the 4x100m freestyle relay, which again saw a British victory. Simmonds put the team in prime position with her opening split of 58.7, a lifetime best, and despite a strong challenge from the Swedish quartet in the middle stages, anchor leg swimmer Collins was given a lead into the last 100m. She duly brought the team home first in a new meet record of 3:53.72.
The other British medallists were the Nova Centurion duo of Helena Thornton, who took the bronze in the 200m breaststroke in 2:36.14, and Jonathan Cook, silver medallist in the 200m Individual Medley in a personal best time of 2:07.86. There was also a finals appearance for Marco Loughran who recorded fifth in the 200m backstroke, just 0.36s behind the bronze medal.