Twelve Swim England Talent Pathway athletes have been selected as part of Team GB’s swimming squad at this summer’s European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF).
The multi-sport competition takes place in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia from 24 to 30 July and will see around 3,500 athletes representing 48 European Nations across 10 Olympic sports.
All athletes will be aged between 13-18 and it will be the first experience of a multi-sport Games for the majority of the competitors.
Britain will be taking 40 athletes to the event, with the swimming team making up for 16 of that total.
Oscar Bilbao, Conor Cherrington, Phoebe Cooper, Oscar Dodds, Henry Gray, Jakey Hutchinson, Blythe Kinsman and Luke McGee all recently took part in Swim England’s national events camp, with Maisie Brown, Skye Carter, Ella Homan and Isla Jones taking part in the national development camp.
The national governing body’s head of swimming talent, Richard Blackshaw, will take on the role of team leader and Millfield Swimming Club coach, Matthew Puddy, will also be part of the coaching staff heading to Slovakia.
EYOFs play an important role in the development of young British athletes, providing crucial multi-sport event experience and guiding them towards realising their Olympic ambitions.
A number of athletes that have competed at EYOF have gone on to compete at the Olympic Games including double Olympic swimming champion, Rebecca Adlington.
‘The first step in a journey towards a senior Olympic Games’
Two-time European swimming champion Lizzie Simmonds will be Team GB’s Chef de Mission for the competition having competed at EYOF back in 2005.
Simmonds went on to take part at both the 2008 Beijing and London 2012 Olympic Games and is now the current chairperson of the British Athletes Commission.
She welcomed the whole squad, saying: “Being selected for Team GB for the first time is a real honour and privilege, and I’m sure today marks a very proud moment for the 40 talented athletes that have qualified for Banská Bystrica 2022.
“Youth Olympic Festivals are a hugely important events, offering young athletes invaluable international competition and the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in a multi-sport environment.
“Embracing and learning from an experience like this one can be the first step in a journey towards competing for Team GB at a senior Olympic Games.
“Having experienced an EYOF myself as an athlete, I’m now looking forward to welcoming a new generation of sporting superstars to Team GB, and supporting them to perform at their best on the European stage this summer.”
Oscar Bilbao will be part of the swimming squad having and is proud to have the chance to represent Britain.
He said: “I’m very proud to be representing Great Britain at the EYOF, and having just competed at the European Junior Championships in Bucharest.
“I think I am well prepared to perform my best and hopefully achieve some personal bests!”
Swimming events will run from Monday 25 July until Friday 29 July at the Šport Park Plávanie in Štiavničky.