Team GB’s young swimmers enjoyed a successful week at the European Youth Olympic Festival as they won a total of 10 medals, finishing second in the swimming medal table as a result.
The 16-strong squad headed to Slovakia’s Banská Bystrica for
the competition, which saw over 2,000 athletes compete in 10 sports.
In total, Great Britain’s swimmers picked up four gold, two silver and four bronze medals in the pool.
Two of the three individual gold medals were won by the in-form swimmer Oscar Bilbao, the breaststroker doing the double over both the 100m and 200m events as part of a stunning event for himself.
Speaking after qualifying for the 200m Breaststroke final, Bilbao was complimentary of the event, which is designed to expose younger athletes to the Olympic environment.
“My experience here has been great so far. It’s nice to meet people from different countries as well as athletes from different sports within Team GB. It really gives the feel of an Olympic event and I’m really enjoying it so far.”
A further gold medal was won by Bilbao alongside his teammates Conor Cherrington, Henry Gray, and Stefan Krawie in the final of the Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay. The group took the honour on the final day of a competition which was heavily attended by a number of major nations, including Germany and Italy.
The final Team GB gold medal of the competition came from Phoebe Cooper, as the City of Sheffield athlete won the 200m Individual Medley by a clear margin.
“The race felt really good and the environment this week was awesome. I don’t think you’re going to get any better than that!" she said.
Fourteen-year-old Skye Carter also made her mark during the event as she took Team GB’s only individual aquatics silver medal in the Women’s 50m Freestyle. This was supplemented with further success for Carter in the Women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay. Alongside Cooper, Isla Jones and Ella Homan, the group took the team’s second silver medal as they were just touched out of the top spot on the podium.
Also picking up a medal was Kianna Coertze, for the role she played by swimming the heats. Speaking on the opportunity, Coertze was full of pride.
“It’s an honour to represent Team GB in the first place but to have won a medal in a race was amazing. I was in the heats and helped get them into the final, so I was running up and down the side of the pool screaming. I’ve got such a sore throat now!" she said.
Jones also continued the passionate words after the race.
“To have won a medal is an honour for myself, an honour for Team GB and an honour for my family back at home. After the race I went onto my phone and had loads of notifications with everyone saying ‘well done’ to me – it just feels so amazing. We were all shaking when we finished!”
The majority of the medallists were back on the podium again as they took the bronze in the Mixed 4x100m Medley Relay. The team of Cherrington, Bilbao, Carter and Cooper all picked up a further medal after a gutsy performance.
Speaking on his plan for the race, Bilbao was very determined in his response.
"Just before we dived in, going through my mind it was just to hold the position. To win a medal is such a huge privilege, and that was the aim at the end of the day. I didn't want to let the team down, so I just wanted to do as well as possible."
Carter was also happy to add another medal to the tally.
"I'm just so happy with myself and the whole team. When I came here I was not expecting to win a medal. I was hoping to make a semi-final, but I wasn't expecting to make a final, let alone get on the podium afterwards!"
A further three individual bronze medals were won by British swimmers, as Blythe Kinsman did enough to stay with the leaders to touch third in the Women’s 100m Backstroke final. Carter continued her successful week with a bronze in the Women’s 100m Freestyle, as Stefan Krawiec also finished third in the Men’s 100m Butterfly final.
Top image credit: Team GB