Swimming: Teen stars Schlosshan and Crisp have sights set on Tokyo 2020

Ciara Schlosshan with her silver medal.
Ciara Schlosshan with her silver medal.
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THE City Of Leeds Swimming Club is becoming accustomed to representation at major international sporting events.

Two years after Sophie Taylor took gold at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Georgia Coates stepped out at the 2016 Rio Olympics at just 17 years of age.

Ciara Schlosshan in action at the John Charles Centre, Leeds.

Ciara Schlosshan in action at the John Charles Centre, Leeds.

After more success for the club on the junior front in 2017, two more rising stars have recently returned from a major junior international with Ciara Schlosshan and Leah Crisp both excelling at the European Junior Championships in Helsinki.

Aware and inspired by the successes of their predecessors, both are now dreaming of following Coates to the biggest stage of all at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Schlosshan and Crisp are both 16 years of age with the duo having recently sat their GCSEs before flying out to Finland to represent both Great Britain and the City Of Leeds Swimming Club at the Junior Europeans in Helsinki.

The teens passed their latest sporting examination with flying colours as Schlosshan took a silver medal in the 200m butterfly for the second year running with Crisp sixth in the 400m freestyle.

Leah Crisp.

Leah Crisp.

With the duo approaching their 17th birthdays, the step up to the senior ranks now looms with all eyes immediately on next year’s World Championships in South Korea.

Conveniently, one year short of the 2020 Olympics, the holding camp for the event will be held in Tokyo.

If Schlosshan and Crisp have their way, both will be returning to the city for the ultimate international Games experience the following year.

Reflecting on their recent rise up the ranks in an interview with the YEP, both girls admitted they share similar ambitions with Schlosshan saying of recent progress: “It’s been really good.

Leah Crisp in action at the John Charles Centre, Leeds.

Leah Crisp in action at the John Charles Centre, Leeds.

“I think it’s great that in Leeds we are renowned for our water sports and I know all of Leeds is backed by the Leeds City Council which I know a lot of other cities do not have which we are all very grateful for.

“I am just taking it year by year. I’ve got a clear goal really of where I want to get to, which is the Olympic Games, so I just take it year by year and it has been a learning curve this year definitely with the exams too but I don’t have to do my exams again until A-Levels. I’m happy with how it’s going.

“I set myself goals and I try and achieve them each year and hope for the best.

“I will still be young in 2020 and some people may say it’s too soon but I think I’ll go for it.

“I might not make it but I’d like to know that I went for it. Why not?”

Crisp too is ready and waiting to grasp any potential opportunity for an outing at Tokyo by the horns with the teen potentially having two shots at glory given that she also competes in open water swimming.

Crisp reasoned: “I just need to keep going and improving while I am growing up and then wherever I am at the time, that’s where I am.

“If you are training hard eventually your time and your breakthrough will come and it just depends when that is.

“If it’s in the next couple of seasons and Tokyo, then great.

“If not, then just keep going and eventually it will come.

“I am currently a bit torn between swimming and open water swimming but whilst I am improving in the pool I would like to continue that the best I can and make the seniors. I enjoy both of them.”

Both swimmers are now set to represent their club at the British Championships next week with the two teens admitting they are inspired by the success of the Leeds stars who have made considerable waves before them.

Following on from the superb success of the City of Leeds Diving Club, Taylor’s 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal was followed by Coates’ Olympics outing at Rio in 2016 with Stateside-bound Layla Black also becoming European Junior champion last year.

Coates left Leeds last year for the National Centre in Bath but with the likes of Schlosshan and Crisp still in town, the future of the club looks bright with both girls striving to achieve similar success.

“I’d say it’s inspirational,” said Crisp.

“I’ve been in near the top groups since I was about 11 or 12 so the people that I have been training with, it’s great to see how down to earth they are and then see them go on to do great things. But you can see all the hard work they put in.

“It’s nice to see the results of that so it helps inspire you that you can achieve the same.”

Schlosshan reasoned: “Georgia Coates has been a big inspiration for me to train alongside and I am still in contact with her since she has left so I hope that people at the club also look up to me.

“While she doesn’t train with me, my younger sister trains at the same time as me and I know all of her friends are asking her about what we are doing.

“It’s a really proud achievement for the club to get two to the Junior Europeans. Not many clubs even get one swimmer to swim internationally so to have two of us this year has been great and we both swim different events. Sophie Taylor was a breast-stroker, Georgia was an individual medley swimmer so we have got a variety of strokes at Leeds.”

A variety of strokes and also a variety of options for Schlosshan and Crisp who are now awaiting their GCSE results before embarking on taking their A-levels.

Crisp will continue her education at Wakefield Girls’ High School while Schlosshan is set to move from Bradford Grammar School to St Aidan’s Sixth Form in Harrogate.

Both Schlosshan and Crisp would be set to take their A-levels the same summer that Tokyo 2020 comes knocking but both are taking the challenge in their stride.

Crisp admitted: “It is something that you do get used to and all my friends at school are always saying ‘I don’t get how you do all the work’. But you get used to being efficient with your time and managing everything really well. And also throughout the exams my coach Richard Denigan and the other coaches are really supportive in helping you say no.

“If you need a session off to get on top of your work it’s fine.”

Facing up to the possibility of sitting A-Levels whilst attempting to conquer the Olympics, Schlosshan revealed: “I am planning on doing my A-Levels over three years just to give myself the best shot of getting the top grades and the best shot at the Olympics.

“Even if I don’t make the Olympics, I’d like to know in myself that I’d given it my best shot.”