8th Dec, 2016

European Junior Championships beckon for Vale swimmer

Liam Moakes 20th Apr, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

VALE swimming star Tazmin Pugh has put herself in a strong position to qualify for the European Junior Championships which take place in Hungary in July.

Pugh, who still swims at her home clubs of Pershore and Worcester when on vacations from her Ellesmere Titans base in Shropshire, is well placed to secure her place in the 200m backstroke for Hungary and is also in with a chance of competing in the 200m fly and 100m backstroke thanks to her efforts at the 2016 British Swimming Championships in Glasgow.

Pugh, along with fellow Vale swimmer Chloe Golding and numerous other Titans swimmers, competed in the important six-day event north of the border.

British Swimming will use the event to identify and nominate senior teams for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this summer as well as the European Championships in London in May and the Junior Euros in Hungary.

The schedule of events featured three finals – a senior final targeted at the Rio Olympics and European Championships in London, a Target Tokyo Final for potential additions to the European Championship in London and a Junior Final for those looking to qualify for the European Junior Championships in Hungary.

Pugh, 16, a former Bowbrook House and Abbey Park Middle School pupil, had qualified for nine events but whittled it down to five over the six days of competition following a slow recovery and time off training from a recent illness.

In the end Pugh made every final. On the first day she had a fun warm-up event in the 200m freestyle and, even with a disappointing heat time, she made the European Junior finals and went out strongly in the evening’s finals, finishing in similar style with a lifetime best of 2:02.62 to take her up to fourth in the UK as she finished third junior.

Pugh was joined by team-mate Golding (18 end of year age) on the second day in the 100m backstroke and in the morning’s heats both progressed to the Target Tokyo finals within 12 hundredths of each other, with Pugh in the reckoning for the European Junior Championships selection.

Pugh came home third in 1:02.16 in a lifetime best of over 0.7 seconds, with Golding fifth with her own PB of 2:02.46.

Overall Pugh finished second in the ages eligible for the European Championships, rising to sixth in Europe (17 & under) and sitting in second place in the UK.

The third day saw Pugh battle it out in the 200m butterfly and set 2:14.30 in the heats as she progressed to the Target Tokyo finals in which another plucky performance saw her finish second, improving to a season’s best time of 2:13.40 and overall fourth in the European Junior placings.

On the fourth day Golding joined the fray again with Pugh in the 200m backstroke and both went well (Pugh 2:14.08; Golding 2:14.09) as they took the last two places in the top tier Olympic Trials Final in seventh and eighth places.

Unfazed by the experienced and elite 20 to 25-year-old university girls she was swimming with, Pugh took it out strongly to remain in fourth place to the finish and record yet another lifetime best of 2:13.19, with Golding fifth in 2:13.37.

This has put Pugh firmly in front of the European Junior Championships Great Britain selectors having been the only junior in the Open Final and recorded the quickest junior time.

She has risen to first in Europe and sits fourth in the UK all-time best list for 16-year-olds and is presently ranked first in the UK.

On the last day Pugh competed in the 100m butterfly and another fast time was needed to try and progress to the Open Final.

She duly obliged and qualified in eighth place with 1:00.88 in the Olympic Trials Final. In the evening finals she went quicker to 1:00.43 in finishing seventh, although not enough to finish in front of the other two juniors (17/under) in the final and automatic selection.

Pugh will now have to wait for the selectors’ decisions and what other events she may compete in if selected for Hungary.