Stephens will be hoping to push her Olympic claims at European Championships

PLYMOUTH Leander’s Laura Stephens will get the chance to push her Olympic Games claims after being named in British Swimming’s squad for the LEN European Championships in May.

Stephens was not included among the 24 swimmers selected for the Olympics this week, who joined four previously pre-selected athletes. She had just missed the qualifying time at the British trials by 0.06 of a second.

But British Swimming did say they would leave some spots open until after the European Championships and the Glasgow Swim Meet.

Stephens, a World Championship finalist in 2019 and ranked fifth in the world last year at the 200m butterfly, appears to be fully in the thoughts of the selectors as she is one of just 12 swimmers not already named in the Olympic team who will compete at the European Championship in Budapest between May 17-23.

Britain will send a pool team of 40 swimmers to Hungary – the 28 athletes already picked for the Olympics and 12 Tokyo hopefuls.

With international racing opportunities so limited over the past year, national performance director Chris Spice said he is looking forward to seeing British athletes back in the water alongside top-class rivals from across the continent.

“This event comes at an opportune moment as we step up our final preparations for Tokyo, bringing the team together for the first time since our announcement on Tuesday,” he said.

“Whilst we have enjoyed the experience of domestic racing with the recent selection trials and the two meets in Manchester before that, this will be our first time back in international competition in over a year.

“This will be another big step forward, and we fully support and thank LEN and our fellow European national teams for committing to this important racing opportunity. We are confident that the protocols and guidance will be in place to ensure the safest possible environment for our athletes, coaches and support staff.

“The European Championships are also another important element in our Olympic selection policy, so the week of racing will be an opportunity for some athletes to put in the performances they need to and that we know they are capable of.

“It is also a key chance to test out our relay squads and seek Olympic qualification where necessary, whilst for the younger members of the squad, it will be a valuable learning experience on their journey into Paris 2024 and beyond.”

Former Plymouth College pupil Ben Proud will be hoping to defend his 50m freestyle crown in Hungary.

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