Plymouth club Leander ready to let loose new talent at British International Open Championships
TOP swimming club Plymouth Leander are ready to unleash a new wave of talent at a major competition next month.
Leander are sending a substantial contingent to the British International Open Championships in Leeds early next month.
The teenagers will be hoping to qualify for the Great Britain team for either the European Junior Championships in Poznan, Poland or the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht, Holland.
Leander head coach Jon Rudd said for some of the swimmers next month's competition in Leeds would be a do or die event.
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Rudd said: "For some of our swimmers, Leeds will be their only chance for junior international selection, because by the time the Youth Olympic festival comes around again, they'll be too old for it.
"Some of our swimmers have been around for a while, as they've been winning medals nationally.
"Now is their first foray into international selection and there's a difference between the pressures involved in a national final and one where you're trying to win an international cap.
"We've had at least one swimmer in the European Youth Olympics since 2003 and we'd quite like to keep that going."
Leander's Great Britain relay expert Steve Beckerleg started that tradition with a gold medal at the Youth Olympic festival, said Rudd.
Leander athletes gearing up for the international open at Leeds – and hopefully glory in Europe – include Great Britain prospect Harry Acland, Jack Smith, Jack Burton, Megan Bowen, Dani Baker, Alicia Parsons and Jack Scott.
Acland is already being considered for the next Olympics in 2016, in Rio, Brazil.
He was selected for a Great Britain camp in Brazil before Christmas as selectors kept tabs on his progress.
Some of Leander's international band of swimmers will also be swimming at Leeds.
They will be aiming to record impressive times as they try to qualify for their respective countries' national teams.
International swimmers are encouraged to attend Plymouth College, who are in an education and swimming deal with Leander.
Leander provide some of the best swimming coaching available, while their swimmers are educated at the college.
Two who may do well at Leeds are Michael Umnor, who is competing for Russia, and Eva Gliozerytye, who will represent Lithuania.
Rudd, though, declined to predict any of the Leander squad as possible medal winners.
He said: "They're all good kids and all of them have got a chance.
"It just depends on what happens on the day."