Junior athletes make waves at British Swimming Championships

13 Apr 2023

The 2023 British Swimming Championships saw a number of athletes make impressions on the national stage as the 2023 World Aquatics Championships squad was announced off the back of a successful competition.

Whilst a number of athletes are making their senior debut in Fukuoka this summer, the championships also created an environment for a number of junior swimmers to excel, with the competition serving as the key selection meet for the 2023 European 23 & under Championships, European Junior Championships and the European Youth Olympic Festival.

Leah Schlosshan continued on from a 2022 which earned her the Women’s 200m Individual Medley European junior title with a consideration time in the Women’s 200m Freestyle as the fastest junior on the first evening of action, her bronze medal-winning performance in the Women’s 400m Individual Medley on the same night added another consideration time to her accolades. Also joining her as the highest junior finisher under the consideration time was City of Liverpool’s Tyler Melbourne-Smith in the Men’s 400m Freestyle. Oscar Bilbao of Repton rounded off the notable junior performances on the first day with a performance worthy of first place in the B final of the Men’s 100m Breaststroke.

City of Salford’s Amelie Blocksidge took the first highlight of what would be a memorable meet for her on day two, with a 13 year-old British age group record in the Women’s 800m Freestyle on her way to the silver medal. Reuben Rowbotham-Keating of City of Manchester Aquatics continued the success on the second day with a bronze medal and junior consideration time in the Men’s 200m Butterfly. Mount Kelly’s Blythe Kinsman and Matthew Ward then both went under the consideration time and took junior top spot in their respective Women’s and Men’s 100m Backstroke finals. City of Sheffield’s Sienna Robinson completed the headline day two performances with a top junior performance under the consideration time in the Women’s 200m Breaststroke.

Another junior to take a medal in the open category was Sevenoakes’ Eva Okaro on day three, with the 2006-born athlete also going under the consideration time for the Women’s 50m Freestyle. Edward Marcal Whittles of Chelsea & West then took a consideration time of his own on the way to becoming the top junior finisher in the Men’s 400m Individual Medley, before Wycombe District’s Lucy Fox took the final consideration time of the day in the Women’s 200m Butterfly.

Multiple athletes went under the consideration time in the Women’s 200m Backstroke to open day four of the competition, but it was Millfield’s Evie Dilley who took the top junior spot and the open bronze medal for her efforts. Mount Kelly’s Erin Little went well as the sole junior in the final of the Women’s 100m Freestyle to put herself under the consideration time for the event, before Warrington’s Joseph Ashley set a 14 year-old British record in the Men’s 200m Breaststroke.

City of Liverpool’s Tyler Melbourne-Smith took the first consideration time of the penultimate day in the Men’s 800m Freestyle on his way to a fourth place finish, before Kinsman returned to take a 16 year-old British record in the Women’s 50m Backstroke. Blocksidge took a British record of her own as the 13 year-old went under the consideration time in the Women’s 400m Freestyle, and Mount Kelly’s Ward returned to take another consideration time in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley. Schlosshan also took another consideration time in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley on her way to open bronze in the event.

Amelie Blocksidge 1500m Free BSC23
Amelie Blocksidge took a memorable British title on her fourteenth birthday

The final day opened with a bang as Blocksidge moved up an age group on her fourteenth birthday to take the 14 year-old British record and the open British title in the Women’s 1500m Freestyle. In what was a fierce battle between her and Loughborough University’s Fleur Lewis, she did enough to drop the athlete as the race went past the halfway point to take a historic victory and go under the junior consideration time. Schlosshan added another consideration time and junior title to her ever-growing list on day six with a fourth place in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke, as did Ward with a performance worthy of seventh place in the Men’s 200m Backstroke to complete the list of athletes staking their claims for this summer’s junior competitions.

Speaking on the performances of the athletes, British Swimming’s Head of Performance Development Alan Lynn gave his thoughts on the strength of junior swimming in the country as selection for the international teams is being considered.

"The progress made by our junior swimmers in Sheffield was very encouraging. The quality of racing and racecraft was impressive and some significant performances highlighted the Meet. Congratulations to all juniors who made the A final and particularly those who reached the podium.

“Standout swims by Amelie Blocksidge, Leah Schlosshan, Matthew Ward, Tyler Melbourne-Smith, Blythe Kinsman, Eva Okaro & Phoebe Cooper will signal the strength of our junior teams for the summer campaigns."

Full results from the 2023 British Swimming Championships can be found here.

Selection policies for all 2023 swimming international competitions can be found here.