Leander duo take the first steps on the road to the Rio Olympics
PLYMOUTH Leander boss Jon Rudd has praised swimming starlets Jack Burton and Harry Ackland after they qualified for a slot in the Great Britain European Junior Championships team.
The championships are being held in Poznan, Poland, in July, with both getting their first real international recognition.
Being selected could be the first steps on the journey which will take the two Plymouth athletes to the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Rudd, the duo's head coach at Leander, said they had deserved their call-up.
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They qualified through this month's British Gas International Swimming Meet.
Rudd said: "This is the first real international racing event they've been called up for, although Harry did do a training camp in Brazil recently.
"They both deserve it because they are diligent and professional athletes."
The two Leander swimmers are part of a team of elite junior athletes.
Coaches regard the championships, which take place between July 10 and 14, as the benchmark meet on the elite junior programme at British Swimming.
Mark Perry, interim technical lead for British Swimming, who leads the development programme, said: "The European Junior Championships is one of the target meets on the Podium Potential Programme and this year we have adopted a tough selection policy.
"We are taking a smaller, more medal focused group who we believe have the potential to make the team for Rio 2016 and beyond.
"This meet offers some swimmers the first chance to represent their country at a very high standard of competition, giving them valuable experience for the future."
The Leander pair are in good company. Among those selected were City of Sheffield swimmer Matthew Johnson who won two golds and one silver medal at last year's event in Antwerp. Joining him is Millfield's James Guy (Millfield) who took the bronze in the 400m freestyle last year.