Two club moves within British swimming’s 18&U set carry some significance, as two-time European Championships gold medalist Nicholas Pyle and European Junior Championships finalist Sophie Yendell leave long-time club homes for new training bases.
18-year-old Pyle has been swimming for Newcastle Swim Team for his entire elite career thus far, one that included winning a gold medal as a member of GBR’s mixed medley relay, as well as gold as a member of GBR’s men’s medley relay at the 2018 European Championships.
However, the teen is now headed to the University of Stirling, home of 2019 World champion Duncan Scott, 2018 Commonwealth Games medalist Ross Murdoch, 2018 Commonwealth Games champion Aimee Willmott, and newly-funded freestyle ace Scott McLay, just to name a few of the elites training at the aquatic talent hotbed.
On his move, Pyle tells SwimSwam, “it came about after some discussions with my old coach and British swimming and having some issues with injury last season. I decided I needed to be in a place with better access to better facilities.
“I picked Stirling personally because I like the area and like the type of program they have as well as that I got to know my new coach Steven [Tigg] in Japan and South Korea last summer. After talks with him decided it was best up in Stirling for me.”
Pyle was recently named as a Podium Potential athlete to British Swimming’s World Class Program (WCP), meaning he’s funded through the 2020 season. McLay, Scott, Kathleen Dawson, and Murdoch represent the other University of Stirling swimmers making the list.
As for 17-year-old Yendell, she has recently left her training home of City of Derby to continue her swimming career at Derventio Excel under coach Jamie Main. Among other budding talents, Derventio Excel is the base for teen freestyle ace Jacob Whittle, the fastest 14-year-old 100m freestyler ever.
Yendell tells SwimSwam, “I’ve settled in very well at DX. Being one of three junior internationals in the elite squad and being on regional teams with a few of the guys has made the move easy.
“I loved my time at City of Derby. Jamie and Mandy [Bell] get on well, which has made the whole process very amicable.”
On Yendell joining his ever-improving squad, Main says, “Sophie’s a hard worker, wants to learn and has a great sense of humor. Being on the British junior team with Mia [Slevin], Jacob and myself has made her transition very smooth. Big credit to Mandy at CoD for the way she managed the move.”
Yendell’s bread-and-butter event in 2019 was the 50m fly, where she broke through with a bronze medal in the senior final of the race at this year’s British Championships. She entered those championships with a lifetime best of 26.90 from 2017, but cranked out a then-PB of 26.86.
Flash forward to the European Junior Championships and Yendell made it to the final where she finished 5th in a time of 27.16.