Croatia’s Grgic, Britain’s Shanahan Take First Golds Of EYOF


While all eyes are on Gwangju, Korea for the 2019 FINA World Aquatic Championships, another competition is now underway in Baku, Azerbaijan. The summer edition of the biannual European Youth Olympic Festival officially saw its swimming competition begin today.

The swimming action is taking place at the Baku Aquatics Center, site of the inaugural 2015 European Games. Approximately 3600 young athletes from 50 European countries will take part in this year’s festival, the biggest multi-sport event for the youth of Europe.

Night 1 in Baku saw just 1 men’s and 1 women’s final take place, with the remainder of the races represented by semi-finals.

For the men, the 400m free was on the menu, with Croatia’s Franko Grgic taking the top prize in a time of 3:52.10. That held off runner-up Silas Beth of Germany and Alexandros Kachris of Greece, who landed on the podium with the silver and bonrze3 in marks of 3:52.63 and 3:53.53, respectively.

Grgic took control of the race from the beginning and never let go, although Beth was never more than half a second behind. The Croatian’s personal best heading into this Festival was the 3:53.24 he established this past March, so the 16-year-old managed to slice off almost a second in that amount of time.

Swimming at the 2019 Croatian Team Championships in March Grgic swam a 14:56.55 in the 1500m free. That time broke the old Croatian Record of 15:04.45 and made Franko the country’s first-ever swimmer under 15 minutes in the event, so this 400m gold may just be the start of a barrage here in Baku.

British standout Katie Shanahan did her thing in the women’s 400m IM final, producing a winning time of 4:43.92. That established a new EYOF Meet Record, beating the field by over 6 seconds in the process.

15-year-old Shanahan has been on a tear this year, setting a British Age Record for 14-year-olds in the 200m IM at the British Championships in April. Her time of 2:15.29 came in addition to Shanahan overtaking Hannah Miley’s Scottish 400m IM Age Record with her time of 4:46.62.

At the European Junior Championships in Kazan, Shanahan took 4th in the 200m IM in 2:14.55 to lower the aforementioned record, but she also nailed a lifetime best of 4:43.36 in the 400m IM. As such, her time tonight was within striking distance of her newly-minted career fastest, giving a glimpse into the trajectory this City of Glasgow swimmer is on this summer.

Hungary’s Lia Csulak wrapped up silver in 4:50.50, while Italy’s Chiara Fontana took bronze in 4:52.21.


  • The men’s 100m backstroke saw Russia’s Aleksei Tkachev fire off a new EYOF Record of 55.66 to take the top seed in the only sub-56 second time of the field, Hungary’s Hubert Kos is next in line with a time of 56.13 to challenge Tkachev in tomorrow night’s final.
  • European Junior Championships swimmer for Great Britain, Tamryn Van Selmclaimed the pole position in the women’s 100m free by just a hair. She holds a .05 advantage over Russian Aleksandra Sabitovawith the former owning a time of 56.04 to the latter’s 56.09. Van Selm is already faster than the 56.22 she put up in Kazan that rendered her in 8th place there.
  • Erika Francesca Gaetani of Italy put up a top-seeded time of 2:13.75 to lead the women’s 200m back field. 15-year-old Gaetani earned 100m back silver in Kazan at Euro Jrs, but rocked gold in a time of 2:10.28 in the 200m back so look for her to drop even more time come tomorrow night’s final.
  • The men’s 200m breast saw Russia’s Dmitrii Askhabov land lane 4 in a semi time of 2:17.18.
  • British emerging athlete Sophie Freeman got her hands on the wall first in th women’ s200m fly semi’s, reaping the top seed in 2:13.26. That’s just off her own personal best of 2:13.13 notched at this yar’s British Championships.

With just 2 finals having taken place, the medal count through day 1 of competition in Baku appears below:


1  Croatia 1 0 0 1 1
1  Great Britain 1 0 0 1 1
3  Germany 0 1 0 1 1
3  Hungary 0 1 0 1 1
5  Italy 0 0 1 1 1
5  Greece 0 0 1 1 1

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3 years ago

Haven’t seen any outstanding on day 1. I also have to say that i am not a fan of GB and Italy sending their talents to the junior european championships and EYOF back to back, seems like a surefire way to burn those talents.

Reply to  AnEn
3 years ago

Where do you want to send the talents?

Andy Dwyer
3 years ago

Grgic is definitely one to watch for the next years. Maybe even a candidate for next year’s Olympics? At least for the final. Beth also good.

Reply to  Andy Dwyer
3 years ago

I mean with his time this year he already could have had a chance to make the final at worlds. You’d expect him to drop more time next year and then he definitely would be a favorite to make the final, although i don’t see him becoming a medal contender, he would probably have to drop 20 seconds for that. Beth improved his 400 free PB by 5 seconds here and by 7 seconds compared to last year, this is also a new german age group record by 3 seconds. If this improvement translates to the 800 free, he should be able to swim around 8:01. I just wish Germany would have that much talent in other events as well.… Read more »

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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