Top 10 Men To Watch At 2019 European Junior Swimming Championships


Even without the actual entry lists having been published on the official meet site as of yet, excitement and anticipation are growing immensely for the 2019 European Junior Swimming Championships. Taking place at the Aquatics Palace in Kazan, Russia, site of the 2015 World Championships, Europe’s emerging young stars will be vying for medals and records over the course of 5 days.

Last year’s edition of the European Junior Swimming Championships saw Russia dominate the overall medal table, as was the case back in 2017. Hungary finished runner-up last year, while Great Britain finished 3rd in the national medal table.

As a reminder, the age groups eligible for the competition are as follows:

  • Men: 15 – 18 years by 31 December 2019
  • Women: 14 – 17 years by 31 December 2019

With action on the horizon less than one week from today, in no particular order, here are SwimSwam’s 10 men to watch in Kazan.

Of note, this list has been updated after the start lists were finally published.

#1 Matt Richards, Great Britain

A sprinting phenom at just 16 years of age, Royal Wolverhampton’s Matt Richards has been wreaking havoc on the British Swimming age record boards, overwriting some stellar names in the process.

While competing at this year’s British Championships, Richards scored a new British Age Record for 16-year-olds in the 200m free, placing 7th in the senior final in a lifetime best of 1:49.36.

He also nailed a British Age Record in the 100m free, breaking Duncan Scott’s previous mark in a mighty 49.98, while also checking in with his first-ever sub-23 second 50m free outing of 22.98. That time rendered Richards 8th in the senior final at the British Championships.

Among 18&U swimmers, Richards enters Kazan ranked 5th in the world in the 50m free, 8th in the world in the 100m free and 4th in the world in the men’s 200m free.

#2 Andrei Minakov, Russia

A man of many talents, Minakov earned a total of 7 medals at the 2018 edition of the European Championships, including individual 50m fly gold in Helsinki, Finland.

Training out of the United States at Terrapins Swim Team in California, the young man has been named both to Russia’s roster here for Kazan, but also for the World Championships in Gwangju next month.

Minakov crushed a new Russian Senior National Record in the men’s 100m fly en route to gold at last year’s Youth Olympic Games, hitting a time of 51.12 to top the podium in Buenos Aires. That not only established a new lifetime best for the teen, but it also positions him as the #1 18&U swimmer in the world in the event this 2018/19 season.

Minakov also earned gold medals at the YOG in 100m free and 50m fly. He currently holds the top 18&U time in the world in each with times of 48.50 and 23.47, respectively.

#3 Robin Hanson, Sweden

A promising freestyler for Sweden, Robin Hanson has been named to his nation’s roster for the World Junior Championships, as well as these European Junior Championships.

Hanson has been on a medal-reaping tear over the last year, taking the 200m freestyle bronze at last year’s Euro Juniors in a time of 1:48.65. He’s already been within range of that mark with his 2019 time of 1:48.65 clocked at the Swedish Championships in Malmo this past April. There he also hit a time of 50.27 in the 100m free.

At the Youth Olympic Games, Hanson notched 49.52 for bronze in that same 100m free race that saw Minakov take gold, while he snared 200m free silver in a personal best of 1:48.14.

#4 Jacob Whittle, Great Britain

Along with the aforementioned Richards, Derventio Excel’s Jacob Whittle had a breakthrough British Championships this year, becoming the world’s fastest 14-year-old 100m freestyler of all-time.

Whittle, who turns 15 in September, swam an incredible 50.37 and a 23.63 in his 100m and 50m freestyle events, respectively, breaking his own British Age Records. That’s faster than the current 100m freestyle Olympic Champion, Australian Kyle Chalmers swam when he was a 14-year-old giant in 2013 (he posted a 50.86).

The Brit’s 100m free time ranks 13th in the world for 18&U, an achievement for how young he is, so look for the emerging athlete to fight his way into the final in Kazan.

#5 Thomas Ceccon, Italy

With teammate Federico Burdisso bowing out of European Juniors, Thomas Ceccon will have the Italian spotlight shining upon him next week as he takes on several events.

Ceccon appeared on 2 medal-winning relays for his nation at last year’s European Junior Championships, but he upped his game by the time Youth Olympic Games came around.

In Buenos Aires, Ceccon snatched 4 individual event medals along with a relay bronze, including 50m freestyle gold.

He’s been continuing the time improvement rend by firing off an Italian Junior Record in the men’s 50m back with his time of 25.16 produced at the Swim Cup-Eindhoven earlier this year and more recently cranked out another junior record in the 200m IM. At the Sette Colli Trophy, Ceccon took the men’s 200m IM B-Final in a new lifetime best of 1:59.89, his first time ever under 2:00.

#6 Caspar Corbeau, Netherlands

University of Texas commit Caspar Corbeau finished just off the podium in the men’s 200m breast and 100m breast at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. so the man is hungry to get his hands on some hardware.

In Buenos Aires, Corbeau finished 4th in the 200m and 6th in the 100m, putting up times of 2:14.28 and 1:01.81, respectively. Prior to that, Corbeau wrangled up bronze in the longer event at the 2018 edition fo the European Junior Championships, hitting the wall in 2:14.13.

Corbeau holds the 4th fastest time in the world for 18&U in the 100m breast in 1:02.07 punched in Vancouver this past March. while he also appears in the top 10 of the 200m breaststrokers in 2:15.34.

#7 Aleksandr Zhigalov, Russia

Another breaststroking machine, Aleksandr Zhigalov sits atop the 18&U world rankings throne in both the 100m and 200m distances with his times of 1:01.45 and 2:10.36 from this spring’s Russian Championships.

He is the reigning 200m breast European Junior Champion, having clocked a winning time of 2:12.47 at the 2018 edition fo the competition. The fact he is already about 2 seconds faster just one year later perhaps foreshadows a big swim from the Russian this time around in his home nation.

#8 Kenzo Simons, Netherlands

18-year-old Simons is the newly-minted Dutch Junior National Record holder in the men’s 50m freestyle. While competing at the Swim Cup – Eindhoven, Simons fired off a time of 22.27 to check-in as the fastest Dutch junior swimmer ever at the time.

Simons managed to shave another .07 off of that mark just this month, registering an even faster time of 22.20 en route to gold at the 2019 Dutch Junior Championships, making him the man to beat in this event in Kazan.

#9  Gabor Zombori, Hungary

A Hungarian is on the prowl in the form of 16-year-old Gabor Zombori, the backstroking ace who has also proven himself a possible medal contender in the 200m IM.

The Hungarian holds the only sub-2:00 200m backstroke seed time of the entrants, holding a personal best of 1:59.87. He also has a sub-55 second time in the 100 with a personal best of 54.98 and will look to carry on the tradition of multiple event winners from his nation at the European Junior Championships in the line of Kristof Milak’s dominance last year.

#10 Antonio Djakovic, Switzerland

16-year-old Uster swimmer Antonio Djakovic is primed to make a potential hardware haul across the 3 freestyle events of the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle.

Djakovic owns the top seed in the 200m free in 1:48.57, as well as the 400m free in 3:49.27, while he’s positioned as the 3rd fastest incoming swimmer in the 100m free in 49.83.

At this year’s Swiss Championships in March, the teen demonstrated his prowess by taking the national titles across the aforementioned events, in addition to the 800m free.

The teen is rising quickly and has the talent to fill the very big shoes left by Swiss National Recor holder Dominik Meichtry. For instance, Djakovic’s 400m free time sits within .16 of the long-standing Swiss National Record of 3:49.11 held by Meichtry.

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1 year ago

Loretta, Matt Richards 200 free time is incorrect I think

1 year ago

Which of these guys will go to jr world?

Reply to  Rafael
1 year ago

Not sure on the other nations, but British swimming prioritised Euro Juniors and are sending a far smaller team to World Juniors. Neither of the British boys on this list will go to World Juniors.

Reply to  Dee
1 year ago

I was looking forward for a urlando sartori Frankel showdown on 200 free

Reply to  Rafael
1 year ago

I could be wrong, but i think Frankel is too old. Junior worlds should be for guys born in 2001 or later. I think there is a 16 yo guy from Switzerland who has been as fast 1:48 this season already, so he might challenge for a medal.

Coach Nico
Reply to  AnEn
1 year ago

Yes. Antonio Djakovic – he should be on this list in my opinion (might not be objective).

(G)olden Bear
Reply to  Rafael
1 year ago

No Dutch to World Juniors.

1 year ago

I hope for Ceccon to make the leap from promise to world level swimmer. He is very talented but not always consistent. He is coming of age in an era of incredible young swimmers. There is not a race or stroke where he does not have formidable opponents in the same age bracket.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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