An 18 strong British squad are travelling to Belgium this weekend to contest the Flanders Cup meeting on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th January, one of the first international meets of the year.
Taking place at the Swimming Pool Wezenberg in Antwerp, the meet will provide the first real test of 2019 for our swimmers, as they look to focus on their race strategies and put a prolonged block of winter training to good use.
Amongst the 18 making the short trip to the continent are European champions Freya Anderson, Tom Dean and Nick Pyle, the youngsters all stepping up to the plate at the major senior meet of 2018.
Anderson competed in seven events at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships and medalled in four of them - golds in both the Women's 4x200m Freestyle and Mixed 4x100m Medley relays, whilst also picking up bronze medals in the Women's 4x100m Medley and Mixed 4x200m Freestyle. She narrowly missed out on a podium finish in her preferred individual event, the Women’s 100m Freestyle, where she finished fourth overall. Glasgow capped a phenomenal year for Freya, which started with a pair of Commonwealth Games relay medals – she’ll be hoping to pick up where she left off out in Belgium.
Tom Dean, like Anderson, came of age last summer, contributing to gold in the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle relay at Tollcross, having earned his place on the GBR team having won his first two British titles in the 200m and 400m Individual Medleys earlier in the summer. Having enrolled at Bath University in September, Dean will be hoping to continue his progress in 2019.
Nick Pyle was perhaps the biggest breakthrough act of the trio though, as he took a surprise Men’s 50m Backstroke title at the British Championships to book his spot on both the junior and senior European Championship teams. He returned from Glasgow 2018 a double European champion after playing his part in the Men's 4x100m Medley and Mixed 4x100m Medley relays and will kick-start 2019 with a further elite level competition experience as he looks to cement his position in the senior ranks.
The Flanders Cup will also provide a great development opportunity for three under 18 swimmers, Ciara Schlosshan, Lily Boswell and William Bell. Whilst all have junior international experience, travelling abroad with the senior squad will give them a great opportunity to hone both their pre-meet processes and their arena skills.
Keep your eyes peeled on the British Swimming social media accounts this weekend for updates on how the team are getting on, with a full report available on Monday.
Full squad:Freya Anderson