Short course for city swim stars

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SHEFFIELD’S Olympic Games swimmers Ellie Faulkner and Becky Turner are back in action next week at their first major championships since London.

The pair will be joined at the World Short Course Championships in Istanbul by fellow City of Sheffield teammate Matthew Johnson, who will be making his first appearance in the senior British squad.

But while double European Junior champion Johnson, aged 17, will be travelling to Turkey for the experience Faulkner, who turns 20 in January, and Rotherham-born Turner, who was 20 during the Olympics, will be expected to show why they’re being tipped to contend for medals at the Rio Games in 2016.

Former All Saints school student Faulker said the Championships, which start on Wednesday, will be a good test: “I want to see where my short course speed is, hopefully it’ll be there.

“At this time of the season everyone is in hard training so it’s a matter of getting in there and doing what you can.

“I’d hope to make a semi or a final, but it’s a matter of going out there and racing because it’s going to be a tough field out there.”

While British swimming is in a time of transition with the positions of Head Coach and National Performance Director currently vacant after a disappointing Olympics Faulkner says it’s down to her whether she is successful or not: “It doesn’t matter who the team manager or director is, you just have to do what you can.”

Meanwhile Olympic bronze medallist from the Beijing Games in 2008 Joanne Jackson says Faulkner and Turner have a big future in the sport.

Jackson, aged 26, who retired last month, swam with both in the 200 metre freestyle relay in London.

She said: “They have serious talent. I know Becky Turner really well and was on the team with her last year at the Worlds and this year at the Olympics. She is one tough girl and she is an amazing swimmer.

“She’s still very young, as is Ellie. To make your first Olympics at that age is good because they always say your first one is a learning curve.

“In four years they’ll be flying and they’ll definitely be in medal and final contention.

“Sheffield have an amazing squad. There are some younger guys coming through and I think they’ll cause damage on the world scene next year.

“It’s just a matter of them keeping their head down after the Olympics. You get a bit of a lull after all the excitement because you’re back in the real world. It’s a hard adaption but I know in Sheffield they work very hard with their coach Russ Barber.

“He’s a fantastic coach and there’ll be swimming fast times at the trials next year.”