SUNDERLAND swimming prospect Adam Taylor has taken the first steps on the road to Rio after emphatically securing his spot in the Great Britain set-up.
The Ryhope 16-year-old smashed two personal bests to be crowned British junior champion in the 50 metres butterfly and 100m backstroke at the British Gas International Swim Meet in Leeds.
Two gold medals have seen Taylor selected for GB Swimming’s World Class Development Programme, for those who have the potential to be medallists at the 2016 Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro.
Taylor is one of 65 swimmers on the scheme, alongside City of Sunderland Amateur Swimming Club team-mate Jonny Carlisle, which provides extra financial support, specialist coaching and training camps.
The St Robert of Newminster School pupil is now expected to make his international debut in June’s International meet in Portugal, while the European Youth Olympics and European Junior Championships await later in the year.
For Sunderland’s lead performance coach Danny Thompson, Taylor’s performance has fulfilled the promise he has been showing in training at the Aquatic Centre over recent months.
Thompson told the Echo: “To come out as the fastest Under-18 in Great Britain, with personal best times along the way too, was really good.
“We are really pleased with his ranking and he’s already back doing the hard work and focusing on his goals for the summer.
“The training he has put in since September has paid off. From what I was seeing in the pool beforehand, the performances were there, and as long as he didn’t let the environment get to him, I knew he could do it.
“It’s an exciting time for Adam.
“This opens up an opportunity for him to regularly train with the very best athletes in Britain.
“He will get financial support which will help us expose him to further international competition.
“It’s a really big leap forwards for him and just rewards for the training he has put in.”
High Barnes’ Lucy Ellis was Sunderland’s other podium success story after the 15-year-old secured bronze in the 1,500m freestyle.
“It was an outstanding achievement for Lucy to come third so early on in the season,” added Thompson.
“Lucy is very diligent, works extremely hard and lives the complete lifestyle to succeed.”
Overall, Sunderland reached 14 finals at the event, with Lucy Walton, 15, Freya Rayner, 14, and disability athletes Nicole Lough, 17, and Matt Wylie, 16, all reaching the latter stages of their events.