GLASGOW - Flags waved, trumpets blew, and drums were banged as the best of Europe's youth battled for the medals at the European Junior Championships, which were held in the newly opened Tolcross Leisure Centre in Glasgow.
Nine championship records tumbled during the four days of action. Romania's Camelia Potec emerged as the swimmer of the championships with a hat trick of titles to her credit.
The 15 year old from Braila had already taken gold at the European Youth Olympics a few weeks earlier. Her first success came in the 100 freestyle, where she qualified second behind Britain's Melanie Marshall in a personal best of 57.62. In the final she lowered her previous best by another second to 56.65, finishing ahead of Belgium's Fabienne Dufour, with Marshall third.
In the 200 freestyle Potec gave her rivals no chance at all. Using her speed, she was ahead at the first turn in 28.08. At the 100 she was over a second ahead of Germany's Janina Gotz. Gotz closed the gap slightly on the third length, but the Romanian teenager pulled away to win in 2:00.41, almost a second ahead of Gotz.
Potec completed the hat trick in the 400 freestyle where she demolished her previous personal best. With just 100 metres left in the race she was over two seconds ahead of Gotz.
Gotz and German team-mate Hannah Stockbauer, closed down rapidly on the final two lengths, but Potec finished strongly with 4:11.96, a personal best by over four seconds from her previous best. Stockbauer touched out Gotz.
The boy's 1500 freestyle was a repeat from last year as the same three swimmers swept the medals again. Denis Zavgorodny of the Ukraine had already successfully defended his 400 freestyle title on the second day. Zavgorodny lowered the championship records in the prelims of the 1500 freestyle to 15:19.71, bettering the Igor Snitko, UKR, two-year-old record by 4.61 seconds. In the final, Zavgorodny, unchallenged, romped home by some 20 metres with another championship record of 15:13.69
Yana Klochkova, UKR, turned her 1996 silver into gold in the 400 I.M. where she produced an outstanding time of 4:43.79, lowering the eight-year-old meet record of Krisztina Egerszegi, HUN. Her margin of victory over second place finisher Simona Paduraru, ROM was over nine seconds. Klochkova heads the European rankings for this event and should be a threat in Sevilla.
She added another gold by winning the 200 I.M. with 2:16.57, with Paduraru once again in second.
Julia Fomenko, RUS, completed the backstroke double, while Russian team-mate Inna Nikitina broke the only other girls championship record in the 200 breaststroke with 2:28.83.
The relays produced the most exciting races of the four days, none more so than the British boys 4x100 free. They were determined to match the performance of the British girls from the previous day. The quartet of Matthew Kidd, Matt German, Marc Spackman, and Danny Wilks kept both Germany and Italy at bay with a championship record time of 3:24.83.