Top 5 Girls To Watch At The 2023 European Junior Championships


The 2023 European Junior Championships kick off next week in Belgrade, Serbia with the competition spanning Tuesday, July 4th through Sunday, July 9th.

We already profiled 5 of the top boys to watch at the competition but now let’s examine the top 5 girls about to take to the Sports and Recreational Center “Milan Gale Muškatirović”.

Refresher on Top 5 Boys

  1. Filippo Bertoli (ITA)
  2. Vlad-Stefan Stancu (ROU)
  3. Kuzey Tuncelli (TUR)
  4. Miroslav Knedla (CZE)
  5. Casper Puggard (DEN)

#1 Merve Tuncel (TUR)

18-year-old Merve Tuncel was on our list of top names to watch at last year’s edition of these European Junior Championships and the Turk once again warrants our attention.

The freestyle ace is coming off a hugely successful 2022 where she became a triple gold medalist in Romania, claiming the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle event titles. And the then-17-year-old did so decisively, beating the Euro Jrs 400m field by over 4 seconds, the 800m free field by nearly 10 seconds and the 1500m free field by nearly 8 seconds.

Tuncel carried her momentum into the World Junior Championships last year where she nabbed gold medals in the same trio of freestyle events.

The USC commit is entered in that trifecta here but is also seeded 4th in the 200m free.

At the moment, Tuncel is the top-ranked European 18&U 800m freestyler with a season-best of 8:36.23 while she ranks #2 among 18&U Europeans in the 400m free (4:10.41) and 1500m free (16:21.68).

#2 Nikoletta Padar (HUN)

Hungary’s Nikoletta Padar will be seeking to defend her double titles from 2022 in the 100m and 200m free events.

The 17-year-old topped last year’s Euro Jrs 100m free in a time of 54.69, the sole sub-55 second outing of the field, while she clocked 1:58.43 in the 200m free.

As with Tuncel, Padar accomplished the same feat later in the summer by grabbing 100m and 200m free gold at the World Junior Championships.

Padar currently owns season-bests of 55.01 and 1:57.81, the latter of which sits just .01 outside her lifetime best of 1:57.80 notched in the 200m free semi-finals of the 2022 senior European Championships. There in Rome, she ultimately finished 8th in a result of 1:58.87.

#3 Amelie Blocksidge (GBR)

14-year-old Amelie Blocksidge of Great Britain has been dropping major time with virtually every swim she’s been taking on.

The City of Salford Swimming Club standout’s first half of 2023 came to a head at the British Swimming Championships (World Trials) which took place this past April.

There in Sheffield, Blocksidge swam an 8:38.33 to take 800m free silver, a time which sliced well over a second off her own British Age Record of 8:39.14 she set at the 2023 Swedish Grand Prix.

Blocksidge then took the 1500m free British title 16:19.67, hacking 11 seconds off of her previous lifetime best and British Age Record.

She enters Belgrade ranked 2nd in both the 800m free and 1500m free, sure to give Tuncel a run for her money in the Turk’s pursuit of repeating as gold medalist in each race.

#4 Eneli Jefimova (EST)

Estonia’s Eneli Jefimova is just 16 years of age but already has several accolades appearing on her resume.

Last year in Romania the teen made a clean sweep of the girls’ breaststroke events, topping the podium in 30.44 in the 50m, 1:06.50 in the 100m and 2:26.85 in the 200m distance.

She has since lowered the Estonian national records down to 30.08 in the 50m breast, a time she produced en route to claiming the 3rd seed out of the heats at the World Championships in Budapest. She ultimately finished 6th in the final with a time of 30.25.

Flash forward to this year and Jefimova has already been as quick as 1:06.36 in the 100m and 2:26.14 in the 200m, both national records she produced competing at the Stockholm Swim Open and Helsinki Swim Meet, respectively in April.

Jefimova’s 50m breast seed time of 30.08 ranks her over a second ahead of the field, which means the race is hers to lose.

#5 Lana Pudar (BIH)

Fly ace Lana Pudar is still going strong after having won her country’s first-ever European Junior medals at the 2021 edition of the competition.

She capped the 2022 calendar year of racing off by placing 7th in the 100m fly and 6th in the 200m fly at the World Championships in Budapest.

Pudar enters these European Junior Championships as the top-seeded athlete across all 3 butterfly distances, with her 100m fly mark of 57.27 leading the field by nearly 2 seconds while her 200m fly national record of 2:06.81 holds a nearly 3-second advantage over her competitors.

The Bosnia & Herzegovina star currently ranks 19th in the world in the 200m fly, courtesy of the 2:08.36 she logged at the Barcelona stop of the Mare Nostrum Tour.

Of note, Pudar recently raced at the Summer Championships of Bosnia & Herzegovina where the teen took on a handful of ‘off’ events. That didn’t stop the 17-year-old from putting up historic times, however. She nabbed new BIH standards in the 100m free (55.91), 200m free (2:01.99) and 400m free (4:17.01), beating the World Aquatics ‘B’ qualification times in the process.

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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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