City duo in GB squad for European Champs
LONDON Olympian Antony James along with Plymouth Leander team-mate Joe Patching return to action later this month as part of the Great Britain squad at the European Short Course Championships in France.
The Chartres event on November 22-25 is James' first competition since this summer's home Olympic Games, while for Patching it will be second GB cap at the season-opener.
The exciting city pair will be joined at the four-day tournament by Leander's Lithuanian national record holder Jurate Scerbinskaite.
All three are trained in Plymouth by Leander and Lithuanian head coach Jon Rudd, who like James and Patching are finalists at The Herald's Sports Personality of the Year awards at the Pavilions on December 3.
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Rudd, naturally, is a leading contender in the coach category, while James is one of three Olympians up for Amateur, while European junior champion Patching and London gold-medal winner Ruta Meilutyte are both candidates in the Young Sports Personality group.
Leander and Plymouth College teenaged student Meilutyte will not be competing at the European Short Course Championships, but she will be representing Lithuania at the World Championships in Istanbul, from December 8-16.
The 18-strong GB squad features a mixture of experienced swimmers and talented youngsters making their senior debut at an international meeting.
Although Rudd will not be going to Chartres, he believes both James and Patching will be champing at the bit, looking to put the 'long hours of training to good effect' at the tournament.
Rudd said: "It's an excellent competition and opportunity for both AJ (James) and Joe to get the frustration of all the training out of their system and use all those hours in pool for what they are designed for – competing at the highest level.
"I expect AJ will be competing in just the 50m and 100m butterfly and then possibly a relay.
"It will give him a chance to show others just where he is form-wise at the moment.
"I know he's in excellent shape having conscientiously trained hard, as had Joe and, of course, one of our Lithianian swimmers Jurate.
"It's suggested Joe competes in the 50m, 200m backstroke and individual medley, plus the 200m freestyle.
"That will mean him competing every day but as an athlete with ambitions to compete at the Rio Olympics in 2016 will allow him to show the selectors just how strong a competitor he is.
"I'm not sure the Europeans will be as strong as last year's championships in Poland where many of the swimmers used it as a form tester for the Olympics in London.
"It (Europeans) should be if not a softer competition certainly more open this year."
Great Britain squad for European Short Course Championships: Craig Benson (Warrender), Jack Burnell (Loughborough), Lewis Coleman (City of Sheffield), Thomas Haffield (City of Cardiff), Antony James (Plymouth Leander) Calum Jarvis (Bath), Craig McNally (Warrender), Joseph Patching (Plymouth Leander), Robbie Renwick (City of Glasgow), Michael Rock (Stockport), Karley Mann (Seabyrd SC), Hannah Miley (Garioch), Siobhan-Marie O'Connor (Bath), Lauren Quigley (City of Manchester), Molly Renshaw (Derventio Excel), Sophie Smith (Loughborough), Lucy Spencer (City of Sheffield), Aimee Willmott (Middlesbrough)