South Lincs Competitive Swimming Club's Emma Croker competes for Great Britain at the European Junior Championships
Head coach Keith Haynes is hoping the medal-winning exploits of Emma Croker at the European Junior Championships can inspire her team-mates at the South Lincs Competitive Swimming Club.
Croker was chosen to represent the British team at the championships which are one of the premier global annual swimming events and give rising stars in the sport an opportunity to experience international competition with the very best from across Europe.
She returned from the event in Romania with a bronze medal as part of the girls' 4x200m freestyle relay team with Haynes full of praise for his young protégé.
He said: "We are all extremely proud of Emma’s achievements at the European Junior Championships.
"Everyone at South Lincs is delighted for her and I very much hope that Emma’s results will inspire many of the swimmers at the club to replicate her accomplishment.
"It has been an amazing experience for Emma to get to compete on the international stage and learn to manage herself away from her family and team-mates.
"I very much hope this is a stepping stone for Emma to go on to even bigger and better things."
Croker also competed in the girls' 200m freestyle where she set a new Lincolnshire county record for the girls 17 years age group and was just fractionally outside her personal best time achieved in April at the British Swimming Championships where her performance had secured her selection.
And, after sampling life on the European stage, Croker is hoping for the possibility of more top level selection.
She commented: "I really enjoyed my experience being away with the British team in Romania.
"Being able to race new people from all over Europe is something that not many people get to experience, so I feel lucky to have been there.
"While being away I feel my independence has grown and I hope to have an opportunity with a high level team like this again."
Croker had been chosen to take part at the event by virtue of her performance in the 200m freestyle at the British Swimming Championships.
They were held for the first time in Romania and took place at the newly built and opened Otopeni Olympic Swimming Complex on the outskirts of Bucharest.
Emma had been in hard training since the conclusion of the East Midlands Regional Championships in early May, preparing for her events where she was scheduled to compete in the individual 200m freestyle and as part of the 4x200m freestyle relay.
Having felt 'unfit' by the end of Regional Championships, Emma faced some gruelling sets in the pool, attending nine sessions and spending 16-and-a-half hours per week in the water with gym sessions to add to her schedule.
There was just an eight week period between the end of the regional championships and Emma's departure for Romania.
South Lincs head coach Keith Haynes said: "It was a very short window to condense a cycle of training into in order to prepare Emma for the European Juniors.
"However, Emma is a hard worker and commits to attending all her scheduled sessions."
With the training cycle completed, Emma headed out to Romania with the British team where she had the honour of being the first British athlete to step onto the blocks at the championships as the girls 200m freestyle was the first event on day one.
Swimming in the first heat of the 200m freestyle, Emma swam a very balanced race.
Opening in a controlled 61 seconds for the first 100m, Emma was able to bring the race home well to touch the wall in a time of 2.05.91 and take fifth place in her heat.
After the heats were completed, Emma finished in 17th place missing out on progressing to the semi-finals by just one place.
She also placed third out of the British girls who contested this event, securing her spot as part of the relay team.
With no racing for Emma on day two of the championships, she just faced a little light training session in the morning and then joined the British athletes for the finals session in the evening to support her team-mates.
Emma was back in action on day three of the championships as part of the girls' 4x200m freestyle relay team.
She was joined by Hollie Widdows (Mount Kelly), Ashleigh Baillie (City of Sheffield) and Erin Little (Mount Kelly) to form the British quartet contesting the event.
With 10 countries submitting teams, the relay was swum as a straight final in the evening session of competition.
Widdows led the team off with a strong opening 200m and touched the wall in third place behind Hungary and Italy, handing over to Croker.
She swam a very fast first 100m, keeping the British team in touch of Italy and just ahead of Spain.
She swam her section of the race in 2.04.45 and touched the wall in third place and handed over to Ashleigh Baillie who fought to stay ahead of Spain and maintain the medal position Great Britain had established.
Erin Little brought the race home in fine style, holding off Spain to take the bronze medal for the British quartet in a time of 8.13.42.
Emma’s South Lincs team-mates were watching a live stream of the race ahead of their training session and, needless to say, there was much celebration as Great Britain touched home for the bronze medal.