The best youngsters in action
Three top junior events kick off on Friday featuring the best age group athletes in open water swimming and water polo. Piombino (ITA) hosts the junior open water Europeans while the men’s and women’s water polo continental showcases are to be held parallel in two cities in the Netherlands, Alphen and the Hague.
Piombino welcomes the best junior and youth open water swimmers. Three individual events will be held in three age groups for both genders: boys and girls aged 14-15 will race over 5km on Friday, followed by the 7.5km competition for the 16-17 year-olds. The top juniors, 18-19 years of age, will take part in the classical 10km event – the Olympic distance – on Saturday. As a new initiative, instead of the team event, a 4×1,250m relay will be staged on Sunday, one for the 14-16 years old swimmers and one open for all participating swimmers, meeting the U19 age limit requirements. Both are going to be mixed relays.
Back in July, European juniors made quite a splash at the junior Worlds held in the Netherlands. At Hoorn the Old Continent’s young open water swimmers captured 6 of the 8 titles on offer and 19 of the 24 medals at stake. Most of the medallists will have a shot at the European honours in Piombino, promising really high quality races in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
At the same time the Netherlands host another big junior event, indeed two at once. For the first time, the two European U19 Water Polo Championships will be staged parallel in the same country. The best junior men sides will clash in Alphen, while the women’s encounters are contested in the Hague.
Prelims already offer some thrills in both tournaments, since the young gents of Serbia and Italy are in the same group and the trio of Hungary, Greece and Montenegro will surely entertain the fans during the games played against each other. The young ladies will also have some fun in the first days as Russia and Hungary were drawn in the same group just like Spain and the host Dutch team.
Among the men it’s a tough call to name a real favourite: unlike between 1994 and 2006 when Yugoslavia (later Serbia and Montenegro) won six titles in a row, the last four editions saw four different winners, Italy (2010), Croatia (2011), Montenegro (2013) and Serbia (2015). Among the women Russia and Greece clinched two golds apiece upon the last four occasions, with the Russians being the title-holders. Spain is going for the gold once more which they have never managed to grab despite reaching the final three times in the last four events.
The open water races can be followed live as free streaming is offered on our website (click for all infos). Here live scoring will be available for the water polo Europeans.