The 2016-2017 season has finally come to an end and what a wonderful way to end it for a 15-year-old girl. To have the chance to participate in the European Youth Olympic Festival is, without doubt, a once in a lifetime experience that Emilie will remember for the rest of her life.
The competition is arranged every second year and all athletes taking part in the events are nominated by their countries’ own olympic committees. About 2.500 athletes representing 50 different countries competed in ten different sports. The Finnish team took part in six of them, and the age groups competing in swimming were girls 14-15 and boys 15-16.
The qualifying times required in the finals were much tougher this year than two or four years ago. This was at least the case in 100 and 200m backstroke, where the winner, Daria Vaskina, dominated on both distances. As the comparison below shows there’s quite a big gap between the absolute top swimmers in Europe and the ones in Finland.
Backstroke The EYOF winner 2017 The Finnish records for girls 14-15 / girls 16-17
100m 1.00.87 1.04.15 / 1.02.80
200m 2.11.67 2.19.57. / 2.12.87
Despite good preparations Emile didn’t perform at her best, which of course was not what she had hoped for, but on the other hand, the whole season has been quite volatile, so in that sense the results didn’t come as a surprise. Had everything turned out well, she could had made a new PB as well. What is more interesting is to try to understand why her performances have varied quite a lot (even within a couple of weeks)… and without going into too many details, one simple explanation could be that she has grown quite a lot and is right now 1.78m tall. She has also gained much more muscles and it will probably take some time before she has regained body control.
What is needed right now is patience and resilience, and time off from swimming before the short course season starts towards the end of August.