Swimming: Speedy Smith posts new British 100m record
JACK Smith is in pole position to be selected as one of the youngest swimmers at the European Juniors Championships after smashing a British record for his age group.
No 16-year-old in this country has ever swam a 100m freestyle faster than Smith managed when he clocked 51.02secs to win the British Gas International under-19s final.
The Penkhull speedster says he knew he could better the personal best 51.37secs he had set in the Leeds pool in the heats only a few hours earlier.
He said: "I knew what had gone wrong in the heat. It wasn't that I was disappointed with that time, but I just knew I could go faster. I hadn't gone fast enough on the first length.
"I got that right in the 18s-and-under final and won by 0.41secs. That might not sound like much, but it's half-a-body length and, in swimming terms, it was great."
In posting his new mark, Smith easily met the qualifying time of 51.07secs to be in consideration for July's European Juniors, which is open for swimmers aged between 16 and 18.
He will find out in the next couple of weeks whether he has got the nod to travel to Poznan in Poland, and his form has ensured he is at the top of the rankings.
Smith's performance knocked for six the previous national best of 51.26secs, which was set by James Disney-May in 2009, and he is aiming to go even faster in the summer.
It also means he now holds five age group records – adding to the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle as a 13 year old; and 50m freestyle he achieved at 15 in the London Olympic pool last year.
"I knew it was possible. We break sprints down in training, but when you added the times together that was the region I was aiming towards," he added.
"It was great to pull it off in a competition when it really meant something. I needed to swim fast to get the qualifying time for the European Juniors.
"It will be a brilliant experience if I do get the call – then hopefully I can go back next year and challenge for a place in the final and a podium finish.
"It's a massive competition and a chance to test myself against some young Russian swimmers who are ridiculously fast.
"I reckon about 49secs would get me a medal so I've just got to get back in training, keep going and going."
Smith, who trains with Plymouth Leander, also recorded a personal best over 50m at Leeds, stopping the clock at 23.59secs as he came third in the under-19s final.
"It was a good swim, but that wasn't my main focus," he said. "I went to Leeds knowing I had to peak in the 100m to make the British team and thankfully had a good weekend."