GB swimmers relish LEN Open Water Cup opportunity

Joe Deighan and Nathan Hughes at Eilat 2023 – Simone Castrovillari / LEN

While British swimmers may not have challenged for medals at the first LEN Open Water Cup of the season, racing in Israel will help them make ‘massive developments.’

That is the view of Nathan Hilton, British Swimming’s Performance Pathway Lead for Swimming, who travelled to the southern city of Eilat with his five-strong team.

Tobias Robinson, who will be targeting a place at the Paris 2024 Games next year, placed ninth in a strong European field which featured a host of Olympic and World medal-winners.

Joe Deighnan and Nathan Hughes completed the men’s line-up, with British 800m freestyle champion Leah Crisp joined by open water debutant Amber Keegan on the women’s side.

Amber Keegan practices ahead of the LEN Open Water Cup in Eilat – Simone Castrovillari / LEN

“It was a big learning curve for them in terms of tactics, in terms of feeding, understanding what the pace is like in those races,” said Hilton.

“So for a pretty inexperienced team, I think they did a good job.”

Keegan, a European junior silver medallist in the 400m individual medley in 2013, said she had “fun in the sun” at the event in southern Israel.

“Grateful for the opportunity to race and learn. I’m excited for the next one!”

Last season’s joint overall LEN Open Water Cup champion Ginevra Taddeucci took gold on the women’s side ahead of Angelica André and Bettina Fabian, while Marc-Antoine Olivier topped the men’s podium ahead of Domenico Acerenza and Marcello Guidi.

Many of those swimmers benefit from warmer climates in their Mediterranean training basis, something British swimmers do not benefit from.

“In our country, where the climate doesn’t support year-round open water swimming, it’s difficult to be able to access the racing and training opportunities to be able to develop the skills required to be competitive at that level,” continued Hilton.

“So any opportunity where we can expose these guys to racing against some of the world’s top swimmers, it’s going to develop them massively.”

The next major focus for British Swimmers will be their National Championships in Sheffield – 4-9 April – before targeting the World Aquatics Open Water Tour event in Sardinia which will serve as their primary World Championship selection contest.

The second leg of the LEN Open Water Cup takes place in Piombino, Italy, on 13 May.