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European Swimming Championships will become the stage for Austria’s next generation

European Swimming Championships will become the stage for Austria’s next generation
Luke Edl
Image: GEPA pictures/ Patrick Steiner (GEPA pictures)

“We will probably have a generational change after the games,” says Walter Bär, sports director of the Austrian Swimming Association (OSV), before the European Short Course Championships starting on Tuesday in Otopeni (Rou).

There, in the suburbs of Bucharest, Austria’s 15-person team consists of seven debutants, including Lukas Edl from Wels, one of the most promising local talents. After winning runner-up European and World Championship titles among the juniors, the 17-year-old is now competing against the adults.

“This year was definitely a big surprise,” says Edl, who has not yet written off the Olympic limit. He is 1.01 seconds short of the norm for Paris over the 100 meter dolphin. “It would be a dream, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be this time.” Julia Iris Berger, Marijana Jelic, Fabienne Pavlik, Luca Karl, Leon Opatril and Andreas Rizek will also get a taste of the European Championship for the first time. With 19-year-old Martin Espernberger from Linz, who confirmed the Olympic limit at the US Open at the weekend, there is another up-and-coming swimming hope, but he is missing from the European Championships because of his overseas studies.

Nevertheless, the established athletes have the best chance of winning a medal, especially Felix Auböck, who gets on the starting block for the 200, 400 and 800 meter freestyle. “The real concentration is on the World Cup in February,” Otopeni is just a stopover for the Lower Austria native.

The Linz group is missing perhaps the most promising athlete, Simon Bucher. There is no point in starting, explains the 23-year-old, who is plagued by a persistent cold. In addition to Lena Kreundl (50 meters and 200 freestyle, 100 and 200 medley) and Bernhard Reitshammer (50 and 100 breaststroke, 100 and 200 individual medley), Alex Tramptisch (50, 100 and 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke) will also be there in Romania.

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