As I've mentioned before, the European Juniors is a great way to see future senior International medal winners before they become big stars. This year provided a good mix of swimmers who were already edging towards stardom and those that were less well-known outside of their own countries.
World class already, expected to dominate, did not disappoint...
Yannick Agnel, 1992 - France - 400m Free - 3:46.26 - , 100m Free - 48.80 (insane 47.80 relay split), 200m Free - 1:46.58. Dominant.
Silke Lippok, 1994 - Germany - 100m Free - 55.31, 200m Free - 2:00.11, 100m Back - 1:01.87 (from the relay). Been faster this year, but showed her class in Helsinki.
Anton Lobanov, 1992 - Russia - Eventful meet for Lobanov after missing out on the 200m Breast semi and final. He was the third fastest Russian and nearly missed out on the 50m Breast for the same reason. Ended up winning the 50m Breast in 28.37 and the 100m Breast in 1:01.06. Also provided the key relay split for the victorious Russian 4 x 100m Relay with 1:00.69. Step forward for Russia's next breaststroke star.
Predicted to do well, came through with the goods...
Christian vom Lehn, 1992 - Germany - 200m Breast - 2:12.93. Not too far from being world class in the 200m Breast.
Tjasa Oder, 1994 - Serbia - 1500m Free - 16:37.98, 800m Free - 8:40.06. Couldn't retain her 1500m crown, took the 800m Free instead.
Judit Ignacio Sorribes, 1994 - Spain - 200m Fly - 2:12.30, 100m Fly - 1:00.60. Also swam a rapid relay leg before Spain were DQ'd. Unfortunately didnt get the split, but looked to be sub-1:00. One of the top performers on a strong Spanish team.
Yakov-Yan Toumarkin, 1992 - Israel 100m Back - 55.20. Missed Laszlo Cseh's Meet record of 55.06. Future of Israeli backstroking?
Marina Garcia Urzainqui, 1994 - Spain - 200m Breast - 2:27.12, 100m Breast - 1:09.40. Shaping up to be one of Europe's premier 200m Breast swimmers, has been 2:26.89 already this year.
Peter Bernek, 1992 - Hungary - 200m Back - 1:59.24. Winner of the 200m Back, is ranked 15th in the world in this event this year with his 1:58.62 from the Hungarian Juniors.
Daryna Zevina, 1994 - Ukraine - 100m Back - 1:02.05. Winner last year of the 100m and 200m Backstroke was only able to retain the 100m Back this year. Wasn't able to get down to last year's 1:01.49 and 2:10.08 but 1:02.05 is still very respectable for a 16 year old.
Andriy Govorov, 1992 - Ukraine - 50m Fly - 23.57, 50m Free - 22.54. Govorov moves to 5th in the world on the 50m Fly and 37th on the 50m Free.
Sophie Smith, 1994 - Great Britain - 400m IM 4:44.46, 200m IM - 2:14.48, 1:59.96 Relay split in the 200m Free. Winning the 200/400m IM double is a great sign for British swimming. Smith joins Hannah Miley and Aimee Willmott in an elite group of British female IMers.
Swimmers eligible to compete in 2011. See you next year...
Bence Biczo, 1993 - Hungary - 200m Fly - 1:55.82 200m Fly, 100m Fly - 54.22. A star was made in Helsinki during the final of the 200m Fly. Biczo's 1:55.82 is good enough for 6th in the world this year. When Michael Phelps was 17 his best time was 1:54.86. Good company to be in.
Ediz Yildirimer, 1993 - Turkey - 800m Free - 8:03.17. Whilst Yannick Agnel was busy tearing up the sprint and middle distance Freestyle, Yildirimer put in a very solid effort of 8:03 in the 800m Free. Turkey is not a nation with a rich heritage in swimming so it's very encouraging to see some new talent coming through. Check on Yildirimer in a year's time.
Maxym Shemberyev, 1993 - Ukraine - 400m IM - 4:20.46. Shemberyev moves to 39th in the world this year. Not bad for a 17-year-old.
Nadiya Koba, 1995 - Ukraine - 50m Free - 25.46, 50m Fly - 27.13. If Bence Biczo was a revelation on the men's side, Koba took the honours for the women. Ukraine might just have another star on their hands here.
Where did that come from?...
Karley Mann, 1994 - Great Britain - 200m Back - 2:11.48, 100m Back - 1:02.99. This is what is great about the European Juniors, it throws up some real surprises. I like to think I keep relatively well up to date on British swimming but Karley Mann had barely registered on my radar. At British Nationals she swam 1:04.93 on the 100m Back and 2:15.15 on the 200m Back. Both good times, but they didn't prepare me for the 2:11.48 (!) and 1:02.99 from Helsinki. Mann now sits at 26th in the world in the 200m Back, the British women ahead of her... Elizabeth Simmonds, Gemma Spofforth and Stephanie Proud.
Claudia Dasca Romeu, 1994 - Spain - 1500m Free 16:27.97, 800m Free - 8:43.31. Beat hot favourite Tjasa Oder in the 1500m Free and moves into 12th place on the world rankings.
A strong showing from the major European nations. Ukraine have a great youth programme and look to have found some future stars if this year's results are anything to go on. Germany and France were aided greatly by Yannick Agnel and Silke Lippok but have a number of strong swimmers coming through also. Very pleasing from a British perspective was the strength of the relays showing a level of depth we haven't always enjoyed. Spain impressed with their 4 Golds and 4 Silvers. They would have had another gold in the girls 4 x 100m Medley Relay had they not been DQ'd.
Italy, Russia and Poland were a little disappointing. In 2009 Italy won 10 Gold, 11 Silver and 9 Bronze medals.
Great to see Turkey winning Gold.