1 Aug 2018

Teenager Polly Holden's impact in Open Water Swimming earns instant promotion to seniors for European Championships

Polly, 18, competed in open water for the first time earlier this year and earned her spot in the 5km at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.

Just weeks after making her Great Britain open water swimming debut as a junior, Polly Holden is preparing to do the same in the senior ranks.

The 18-year-old competed for the first time in June and qualified for the 5km at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.

"My coach suggested I try it because my turns are not that great in the pool," she said. "I enjoyed it. It's an amazing opportunity for me.

"I only had three races, so I'm pretty excited."

Race number one was the Great North Swim, in which Holden finished first in her age group and second overall. The performance confirmed her trip to Loch Lomond, where she will also compete in the 5km mixed team relay.

"I've never been to Loch Lomond but I Googled it and I've seen pictures," she said. "It is a beautiful setting and I'm really looking forward to it."

"One of the things I was worried about (when considering whether to race in open water) was the cold. So far all my races have been non-wetsuit, but I've been given one to try this week."

After the Great North event, Holden raced in the Barcelona leg of the 10km open water cup competition, finishing 14th, and then came fourth in the 10km at the European Junior Championships in Malta.

The Nottingham University biology student has also found time to do her first-year exams and race in the pool at the British Summer Championships in Sheffield, where she won the 1,500m freestyle.

Her favourite distances are 800m and 1,500m, and her initial aim was to compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the pool. While she has taken to open water instantly, she feels that it might be too soon to target the 10km marathon swimming event in Japan.

"I think the open water has helped my pool swimming," said the athlete. "The 800m and 1,500m don't seem so long and I know I can sprint a lot more."

The teenager's crowded schedule means no chance for rest after the championships. She is straight back into training in Nottingham for the junior worlds next month in Eilat, Israel.

The Glasgow 2018 Open Water Swimming competition takes place at Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park from 8-12 August.