Great Britain didn’t perform well at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona this summer, but its team demonstrated some of the best junior talent in the pool. Seventeen-year-old James Guy was the pick of the bunch with fifth place and 3:47.86 in the 400m freestyle.
In the absence of abundant senior British success, it was a junior freestyle prodigy from Southern England who relished the opportunity to shine in his senior international championship debut.
This season has seen James make a seamless transition from junior athlete to a senior competitor. In Barcelona he clocked 3:47.96 in the 400-meter freestyle to finish fifth at his first World Championship in a time of 3:47.86.
At just seventeen-years-old, the Millfied swimmer is an encouraging new talent for the Brits, and his love of head-to-head racing combined with his relaxed attitude will make him one to watch out for in Rio 2016. His attacking style and courageous pacing caught the eye, particularly in the first half of the race. With another year of training he could well be one of the stars of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
So far this season he has collected two Junior European titles in Poznan over 200 and 400-meter freestyle, and four individual medals at the British International in March, including gold in both the 200 and 800-metre freestyle and world junior medals from Dubai.
This ambitious teen has shown he isn’t afraid of competition when in March he opted out of the age group final at the British International, and stepped up to the senior final to take on the likes of British record holder Robbie Renwick and 10K World Cup Champion Daniel Fogg.
Since setting a new personal best to win bronze at the European Junior Championships in Antwerp last year and attracting sponsorship from swimwear brand, blueseventy, James has knocked a mighty four seconds off his 400-meter freestyle time, taking him from 3:51.84 to 3:47.86 in Barcelona – an impressive margin, even for a junior.
As if this wasn’t enough, James has just finished off his season with one-gold and two silvers at the World Junior Championships in Dubai, including silver in both the 200 and 400-meter freestyle, and anchoring the British 4×200-meter relay to victory in 1:46.3.
James took some time between the FINA World Championships in Barcelona and the World Junior Championships to speak to us about his season:
James, what a season this has been for you, how are you feeling? Yeah, it’s been a very successful season so far! I have won two gold medals at the European Junior Swimming Championships in the 400-meter and 200-meter freestyle, then I came fifth at the World Swimming Championships in the 400-meter freestyle. This year is the first time I’ve had a swim brand sponsor me too and that was amazing to have that support from blueseventy because neroXII is what I feel comfortable racing in. Yeah, everything is all starting to come together nicely now, and I think if I put the work in I could really excel in this sport!
Did you have any idea that you’d improve your times so much this year? I always had an idea that I could swim fast, but not this fast, so it was a nice surprise! At the British International in March I dropped my 200-meter freestyle PB by two seconds and that was a big surprise, especially as it’s my best event and no swimmer expects to drop that much time in one swim! So I think that did make me start to think what else I could be capable of.
How did you feel when you found out you had made the World Championships team? I was over the moon! I went into the British trials with no expectations to qualify as an individual. I did have hopes of maybe making the team for the 4×200 freestyle relay, so to get that individual spot was unreal!
What were your hopes going into World Championships? I just wanted to swim my best and smash anyone I could who was beside me in a race! Even though I’m only seventeen I knew that if I went in and raced hard, I could be right up with some of the biggest names in swimming. I did feel some nerves before but I also knew I had nothing to lose because it was my first Worlds, so I felt I had less pressure on me than other guys which was a nice position to be in!
What lessons will you take away from your first World Championships? I definitely learned that in a final, whatever level of competition it is, it’s not about time, it’s about racing and who can touch the wall first. I love head to head racing, so to be standing on the blocks beside my heroes like Lochte and Sun Yang was great, but you just have to think they’re normal people and it was amazing to take them on!
Have you had any down time since World Championships to reflect on last season and look ahead to next season? I’ve had a little time to relax, but I have still had to keep training because of World Youths. This season has been a big stepping stone for me, I’m really pleased with the results that I’ve had but also the experiences I’ve had have been incredible. Just being in the call room with my heroes and being able to race them has been a privilege. I haven’t thought about next season yet, but whatever my goals I’m going to take a lot of confidence from this season and just try to enjoy the next stage.
Millfield School has a brilliant reputation for producing world class swimmers; Duncan Goodhew, Mark Foster, Sharon Davies to name but a few. What is it like to be based there? I love competing for Millfield. Every time you swim, all the team gets behind you and supports you all the way and it always gives you a lift before you swim. I have a tough training group, but you don’t feel pressure within the squad and people feel that if you put the work in, the end result is always going to be a nice surprise. But the main thing is you have to have fun and enjoy the process! I need that balance of swimming and school as well because I am only seventeen, and Millfield manages to do that really well.
Blueseventy is dedicated to supporting new and emerging talents, and is proud support James in his breakthrough year. blueseventy would like to wish him all the best on the road to the Rio 2016 Olympics!
This report is courtesy of blueseventy, a swimswam partner.
JAMES GUY LEAD TEAM UK TO A 4X200 FREESTYLE VICTORY AT THE 2013 JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – VIDEO INTERVIEW:
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