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Swimmer James Wilby excells on international stage
YORK City Baths Club swimmer James Wilby is in the form of his life after a hat-trick of personal bests on the international stage.
The 19-year-old set new times for the breaststroke over 50 metres, 100m and 200m at the inaugural British Gas International Meet in Leeds.
Competing against – and beating – some of the leading British swimmers has given the Strensall teenager renewed confidence for the year ahead.
Wilby clocked 29.77 seconds to finish 22nd in the 50m, one minute 3.80 seconds in coming 15th in the 100m and two minutes 7.22 seconds to claim tenth in the 200m.
“Times are what matter and that was the best I have ever swum in my life, so I am really happy with how it went,” he said.
“The main focus for me was just trying to get a bit of time off my swims because I hadn’t done a PB for a while.
“I needed to break that mental block you can build up. I didn’t want to be going into some of the big events this year with three-year-old times.
“It was a confidence boost for me. I have raced against some big swimmers and it is good to realise you can get close to them.
“You can see that you are not far off being a really, really top swimmer.”
Next on the agenda for a focused Wilby is the British Gas Swimming Championships in Sheffield at the end of June.
“That is my main competition this year. That is the big one,” he said.
“If any of the top swimmers were not in Leeds or not at their best, then they will be there and at their best in Sheffield.”
Wilby, who is on a gap year from studying, has received offers of university places at Loughborough and Swansea, both renowned swimming centres.
He said: “I am on a year out to focus on my swimming and get myself up to the standard needed for those clubs. Early indications are that it is paying off.
“Over the next year, I would like to see myself in finals at the British Championships, so top eight.
“That would put me up there with the best swimmers and in contention for the Great Britain team for European and World Championships.”
Club-mate Annie Johnston, 15, also made a big impact at the Leeds event, finishing eighth in both the junior 200m and 100m breaststroke finals, and ninth in the junior 50m final.
York City Baths Club head coach James Richards said: “I was delighted with the way both Annie and James performed.
“James managed to swim lifetime best performances in every event, narrowly missing out on the final in his strongest event, the 200m breaststroke.
“Annie made junior finals in every event she competed in.”
Richards added: “It was great to see seasoned international athletes swimming among the next generation of international athletes. The atmosphere was fantastic.”
Anyone interested in joining York City Baths Club can find more information by visiting the www.ycbc.org.uk website.