"As I left Plymouth on a train to London en route to Luton Airport, I felt a mixture of motivation and honour.
After previously winning gold and setting an Age Group Record at the British Champs only two weeks earlier, I was very motivated to do well in Italy, but I also knew it would be a challenge to stay in top form after my performance in mid-April.
Preparing for the meet
The Italy meet came quickly after the British Champs and the Arena League Final, so my preparation was a new experience coming so close after these two important meets. Therefore, between tapering for the mid-April meets and also catching up on school studies, I knew competing in Italy at the end of April would be a tough experience.
Luckily, I have a great coach Robin Armayan at Plymouth Leander, so I was able to balance training and school work before I left for Italy.
We were told what events we would swim just before the meet, as the England coaches aimed to push the team’s skills over a wide range of events, with a focus on both current and potential best strokes and distances.
I was selected for the 100m and 200m Free and Fly events, plus the Youth 4x100m Free and Medley relays. It was a strong field of swimmers from Europe and Russia, so I knew l’d have my work cut out to medal in the Youth category.
On day one, I was pretty pleased with my fifth place in the 100m Free in 53.16 and fourth place in the 200m Free in 1:56.71, both PBs! On the last day came my two butterfly events and I wanted to try to medal in both, so I had to pace myself and was pleased to secure a bronze in the 200m Fly in 2:07.09, which although not a PB, was a good swim. Next came my 100m Fly, which I felt I could win if I could get near to my PB, so I focused and went for it to secure a win and gold in 55. 42, only 0.34s off my PB.
On both days, I was glad to be part of the England Youth 4x100m Medley and Free teams, in which we secured a bronze in the Medley in 3:53.49 and silver in the Free in 3:31.92, so I was very pleased.
Over the four days with the England Team, I learnt a lot about competing abroad. The England coaches showed us new approaches and different ways to prepare ourselves before the races, which I know will help me in the future.
Overall, it was great experience and I'm really keen to get back in the water and train hard.
My next focus is on preparing for this year’s British Summer Championships, with my long term goal to be selected to swim for my country again and see where that takes me.
At age 15, the Energy Standard Cup was my first international selection, so it was a great honour which I'm really proud of."
Blog by Sam Dailley