Former Lincoln Vulcan Sophie Allen tells of European Championship silver medal shock
Sophie Allen claimed silver in her first ever appearance at the European Championships.
The former Lincoln Vulcan bagged the medal in the 200 metres individual medley in Debrecen in Hungary.
At the same time she broke her own English record.
She explains how the medal winning performance was ideal preparation ahead of the Olympics this summer.
When I went over to Debrecen to compete in my first European Championships it was never a major event for this season.
However, it was a planned stepping stone on my journey to the Olympics.
In training, I like to do a fair, bit of racing I believe this is the best way for me to train, as racing is what you have to do on that all important big day.
So the European Championships was the perfect competition to practice racing against other nations and some of the best in the world.
The travel day was a very tiring day and with it being on a Sunday – my only rest day of the week – this made it all the more challenging to feel good for my race.
However, I had to deal with the situation in the best way I could.
My first race was on the Tuesday morning, the 100 metres breaststroke.
This still feels like a strange event to me as it is not the one I train for, but I'd like to keep getting better at it so I keep swimming it at most competitions.
My race went fairly smoothly and it was a good unrested swim finishing in a time of one minutes 10.5 seconds.
I was slightly disappointed to just miss out on the semi final, but I looked at the swim positively and moved on ready for the heat of my 200 individual medley the next day.
My swim in the heat felt very comfortable. I knew I just had to get my spot in the semi-final so I didn't want to use all my energy and make myself too tired and held back slightly.
My time of 2.15.24 got me into the semi nicely in sixth position.
For the semi-final I wanted to really have a go at the race so I knew what I could expect of myself for the final.
I finished in a time of 2.13.29 which I was more than happy with.
I knew just through the adrenalin of a final I would be able to go faster, so this would set me further ahead of any other training race I've done before.
The final was an unbelievable race for me. I knew it was going to be a close race, but I was not expecting the 2.11.49.
I wanted to come home with a medal so I had to battle through the last 100 metres.
The breaststroke leg is always my strongest so I knew this could help pull me ahead of some people, but with me being in full training I was not sure how fast I'd be able to come home in on the freestyle leg. Obviously the race proved me wrong, to achieve a personal best time, an English record, and win a silver medal.
One thing I took note of the most was the attention the Hungarians were getting in their home country.
The crowds loved them whenever they were introduced onto poolside.
It was great to think that next time I race those girls, the GB squad will be the ones the crowd is cheering for!