This Friday (12 June) marks the start of the inaugural European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, where 61 aquatics athletes across a range of disciplines are set to compete on behalf of Team GB.
The European Games is the continent’s first ever major multi-sport event, and will take place from June 12 – 28, with a total of 50 European countries bringing more than 6,000 athletes to compete.
Having travelled to the capital earlier this week, English athletes from Team GB’s swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming squads will spend the next few days training in final preparation for the start of the games.
Read our aquatic events overview below for everything you need to know:
Taking place from the 23 -27 June, the European Games’ 42 swimming events will be held in the newly built Baku Aquatics centre. Athletes will swim for medals in the four main strokes – freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly – and compete in eight different relay events.
To access the schedule of events for the Games, click here. Out of the 24 GB athletes set to compete, eight are part of the ASA England Programmes talent development for swimming, which works to support and enhance the development of high quality senior athletes for the future. Amongst them are City of Leeds’ Layla Black, the first 14-year-old British female swimmer to duck under 1:10 in the 100m Breaststroke at the British Champs, and British Age Group 1500m Freestyle record holder Tom Derbyshire.
Tim Jones, British Swimming Head of Performance Pathway, said: “We are extremely pleased to be able to announce such a strong team for Baku, which includes a number of swimmers who have previous medal winning form from last year’s European Junior Championships.”
To find out more about the GB swimming team and see the full list of athletes, click here.
The diving events kick off on Thursday 18 June until Sunday 21, and will feature both men and women competing for four gold medals in the 1m Springboard, 3m Springboard, Synchronised 3m Springboard and 10m Platform events.
Eleven athletes aged 14-18 will be competing on behalf of Team GB, including current British senior 3m Synchro champions Millie Fowler and Millie Haffety of Sheffield Diving Club, and World Series double bronze medallist Matty Lee.
Speaking about the upcoming competition Millie Fowler said – “I’m really excited because it’s the biggest event I’ve done internationally. The synchro with Millie is going really well. We’ve had quite a successful season this year and last year and I think it all improved our confidence going into Baku.”
Teammate Matty Lee said: “I am extremely excited to be part of Team GB for Baku 2015. This is the first ever European Games so adds to how prestigious the Games will be. I had to miss out on the Commonwealth Games last year because of injury so I think this opportunity to experience a multi-sports environment first hand will be so valuable for my career.”
To find out more about the GB diving squad and see the full list of athletes, click here.
The Water Polo competition will take place from the 12-21 June in the Water Polo arena created as part of the European Games Park.
GB have been drawn in Group A alongside Greece, Netherlands, Hungary, Germany and Israel after securing second-place finish at qualifiers, while Group B consists of Spain, Italy, Russia, Slovakia, France and Serbia. The top three from each will progress to the knockout stages.
To find out more about the competition, view the Team GB handbook here Commenting on the challenge posed by their European rivals, Team captain Izzy Dean said: “We always expected a tough draw for Baku and we’re under no illusions how difficult our group is, but we will give it our all and we’re aiming to do as well as we can in every match.
“Knowing we will be representing Team GB out in Azerbaijan is a fantastic feeling. Individually, everyone in our squad has invaluable personal strengths, whether that’s speed, endurance or a powerful shot.”
To find out more about the GB water polo squad and see the full team list, click here.
From 12th-16th June, 10 athletes making up the GB synchro team will compete for medals across Solo, Duet, Team and Free Combination events, being scored on choreography, difficulty and execution. Watch the squad prepare for the competition here.
“I’m really looking forward to competing at Baku. It’s going to be a really new experience” – Genevieve Randall. Among the synchro team are England Talent duet pair Genevieve Randall and Jodie Cowie, winners of International Duet gold at the 2014 NAG Synchros, and 4th place in the international section of the 2015 Japan Open.
Randall, who will represent GB as a soloist as well as in duet and team events said: “I’m really looking forward to competing at Baku. It’s going to be a really new experience because it will be my first time performing my new solo at such a big competition so I’m really excited about that.
Since European Champs last year, we’ve improved the duet a lot. We’ve probably improved by six marks which is a massive step in a year. Our last competition was in Japan and we did prelims there, scoring a good mark which we were really excited to get. We were really pleased with our score in the final as well and we’ll be aiming to gain on that.”
To find out more about the GB synchro team and see the full list of athletes, click here.
The Games will officially begin on Friday, with the opening ceremony set to take place at 16:00 GMT time.
Swimming news courtesy of Team GB Aquatics.