Titans Duo become European Junior Champions!!
Ellesmere’s Titans pairing of Freya Anderson (15) and Tazmin Pugh (16) were hugely successful after competing for Great Britain at the European Junior Championships in Hungary. They had both won selection after their wins at the Olympic and Junior Trials back in April. Swimmers aged 14-17 (girls) and boys 15-18 and competed across eighteen events against 750 competitors 47 countries.
Freya Anderson won a clutch of 5 medals including Gold in the 100 freestyle where she broke a British record that has been un-touched since 2006 when it was set by Olympian and North West swimmer Fran Halsall at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia.
Anderson took almost half a second off Halsall’s record in the preliminaries and took further time off in the final making Anderson the third fastest woman this year in the open age group 100 freestyle and 7th all-time fastest woman in Great Britain for this event as well as making her European Junior Champion.
Pugh was in action from day one competing in the 200m backstroke and set a blistering pace throughout her heats winning comfortably by some 5 metres in a new 2 sec personal best of 2:11.82 progressing into the evening’s semi-finals seeded in first place. In the semis Pugh extended herself in the last 15m touching 1st in 2:12.14 and again qualifying for the finals in 1st place and securing the coveted top lane 4.
In the finals on the following evening Pugh executed her race plan superbly allowing others to race off with Pugh turning 7th after length one. Towards the end of the third length Pugh started her concerted effort by excellent underwater work following the turn and with 30m to go forced herself alongside the new leader the Moldovan ‘Tatiana Salcutan’. Pugh used the impetus to race past her opposition finishing a clear half second ahead on 2:11.12 (pb) and to her absolute delight crowned European 200m Junior Backstroke champion realising a dream she has had for the last six months since she changed from concentrating on butterfly to backstroke.
Meanwhile Anderson contributed further to Great Britain’s success at the championships helping Team GB to a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 free relay and a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 individual medley relay. A further medal came with the mixed medley relay where Freya swam alongside another female swimmer and 2 males to grab a Bronze in a time of 3:52.89.
Pugh was back in action on the third day in her less favourable 50m back distance qualifying for the semis in 11th place in 29.40 improving in the semi-finals to 29.10 and surprised to have qualified for the finals in 6th place where she eventually finished 8th with less than 1 second separating her from Gold.
Pugh was also selected to make up the fourth GB member to compete in the 100m fly event where she still figures among the very best in the UK. Only two swimmers from each nation were allowed to progress through to the semis so even though finishing with 1:01.35 two higher placed GB swimmers were the ones to go on eventually finishing 3rd and 5th in the finals.
On day four Pugh was in action in the 100 backstroke where the heats found her touching in a new pb in 1:02.13 qualifying in 3rd place for the semi-finals from where she progressed to the finals to take place on the final day in 5th place.
On day five Pugh swam superbly in the above final of the 100m back resetting her pb still further to 1:02.07 and with a fingertip finish Pugh was placed 5th with 0.03 separating her from the bronze medal.
The last night of the event saw Great Britain go 5th in the heats of the women’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay with a time of 8:11.82 and in the finals was joined by club mate Pugh together with Hannah Featherstone and Holly Hibbott. The quartet knocked 8 seconds off their heats time to eventually finished in Silver medal position with a time of 8:03.45 – awarding Freya and Pugh their final medals, behind the Hungarian host team with a time of 8:02.67
Great Britain was holding second place in the overall medal table, until the last day where they slipped into 3rd place behind a strong Italian team, with Russia in first place –
Team GB closed the championships with a total of 19 medals made up of 5 Gold, 4 Silver and 10 Bronze and sitting 3rd on the medal table with Russia 1st and Italy 2nd on 22 medals each. With the Titans pair of Pugh and Anderson winning 2 individual Gold, 2 Silver and 2 Bronze it was not only a hugely successful trip for them but all 26 members of Team GB as one of the best European Junior Championships for Britain on record.
Both Titans were delighted with their GB Team’s success and found it all very exciting especially Freya who was representing her country for the first time – they agreed there was a great team spirit with everyone looking out and supporting each throughout and was a great bonus to have their own coach out there as one of the GB coaches.