FIFTEEN-year-old Tazmin Pugh has returned from Italy having been competing for England in record-breaking fashion in the Energy Standard International Cup against a combined Russia and Ukraine team, Germany and Italy.
It was another significant event in the career of the talented teenager, who started her swimming at ‘Aquatots’ with Fiona Munt-Whistle, before moving on to be coached by Tom Naughton (Pershore Swimming Club) and later in conjunction with Mark Stowe at Worcester Swimming Club, before eventually moving to the Ellesmere College Titans swimming academy with multi-open water championship winner Alan Bircher.
Pugh was in action in the 50m butterfly event and out to beat her equal fastest time of all time for a 15-year-old of 27.84 which she achieved only a few months before.
Pugh set off in determined mood in her first race in her first full international championships for her country, finishing the last 15 metres in the best way possible by taking victory in a new regional record time and eclipsing her previous best, meaning she now definitely has the best ‘of all time’ (at end of year age) after recording 27.55.
England team-mate Laura Stephens came sixth in 28.45. Pugh’s time puts her ninth in the present European rankings for 50m fly for 16-year-olds.
Originally it was planned for Pugh to have two well spaced races on each day but, with a last-minute change of schedule, she found herself coming into the second day having to do three events – two recognised as being among the most gruelling in a swimmer’s portfolio.
The day began with Pugh powering her way to another new regional record in the 200m fly in 2:12.39 and taking gold in some style by 1.5 seconds.
Her time takes her up to second place in the European rankings, with England team-mate Stephens in first place following her magnificent time achieved at the London Aquatic Centre Junior Trials in April.
With hardly enough time for a warm down, Pugh had not only to attend the previous events’ gold medals presentation ceremony, but prepare herself for the 800m freestyle which she came into seeded fifth from her entry time.
In describing her race later she said: “I put into action a plan previously discussed with my coach back in Ellesmere which was basically settling in for the first third of the distance and then gradually increasing the pace throughout the rest of the race and hopefully overhauling those who had gone out too fast at the start.”
Pugh did just that, swimming a superb final 600m and eventually taking silver in a new personal best of 8:54.84.
She had then to recover yet again – this time for the 100m butterfly – but once again confidently raced to her third regional record-breaking performance of the weekend by taking her third gold in 1:00.33. This puts her in first place in the European rankings for 15/16-year-olds.
Pugh’s first full international championships were capped in wonderful fashion when she was presented with the ‘Most Outstanding Swimmer’ trophy.
Two of her England team won the best individual single events Fina point trophies as England finished second behind Italy but ahead of a combined Russian/Ukranian team and Germany.
These latest three regional junior (U16) records make it 13 in total Pugh has achieved in the last six months and is testament to the improvement she has made over the last few years.