Plymouth swimmer Ruta smashes record by eight seconds in university championships
PLYMOUTH superstar Ruta Meilutyte smashed a swimming record by an astonishing eight seconds at a major competition she wasn't allowed to win.
Meilutyte, 15, won gold at the London Olympics last summer in the women's 100m breaststroke.
The Lithuanian sensation, who is a student at Plymouth College, was taking part in the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) Swimming Championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield.
She was one of several members of her club, Plymouth Leander, at the championships.
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Meilutyte, who lives in Plymouth, was invited as a guest to Ponds Forge following her heroics last summer.
But because she is not a university student, she was allowed to swim, but not to win.
Meilutyte competed in the 200m individual medley, which is not her 'normal' event.
Her coach, Jon Rudd, said afterwards: "She broke the senior Lithuanian record for the event by eight seconds in a time which would have been good enough to get her into the semi-finals at the Olympics."
The teenager was not the only Plymouth Leander swimmer to make an impression at the championships.
Commonwealth Games medallist and University of Plymouth student Antony James won gold medals in the 50m and 100m butterfly.
That meant he had defended his 50 and 100 titles for three years in a row.
The two wins were a remarkable achievement for James, who had just recovered from a back problem and had suffered flu-like symptoms in the days leading up to the championships.
Meanwhile, Sian Harkin, also from the University of Plymouth, won silver in the women's 50m butterfly and bronze in the 50m freestyle.
In the 50m event, Harkin was second to former Plymouth Leander and Great Britain swimmer Emma Wilkins, who now swims for Loughborough.
Rudd said: "We won four medals from two swimmers, which wasn't bad.
"Both of them are Drake's scholars, an aquatic scholarship, which is a good thing for him."
Despite the fact that most of the Leander swimmers were not allowed to win any titles because they were guests, Rudd was pleased with their performances.
The championships are one of a number of events which will give Leander's international swimmers an opportunity to test their fitness and speed.
One of the highlights of the championships was Leander's Ben Proud, who beat Great Britain international Grant Turner in the heats of the 100m freestyle.
Rudd said: "All of them swam excellently – Joe Patching, Grace Vertigans and Ben Proud, who swam his best time in the 100m fly."
Meanwhile, Chris Lee became what is believed to be the first student from the Plymouth College of Art and Design to take part in the championships.
Lee did not figure among the medal winners, but Rudd said: "It was really good to see. He's obviously put a lot of effort in to take part."