Young swimmer Bianchi inspired by electric Commonwealth atmosphere

·2-min read
Charlotte Bianchi

Hearing the crowd cheer on Team England at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham has young swimmer Charlotte Bianchi dreaming of competing in such an atmosphere herself one day writes Matt Wright.

It has not been that long since the 16-year-old from Sheffield was in a major competition, with the European Junior Championships at Bucharest in July being the largest meet she has been a part of so far.

It proved to be a successful time in Romania for the Sheffield Girls’ School student, as she reached the final of the 200m breaststroke and swam a personal best only a matter of weeks after sitting her GCSE exams.

Since then, Bianchi has been able to take in some of the swimming at the Games in Birmingham and has enjoyed the backing the spectators have given home favourites like Ben Proud, Adam Peaty and Maisie Summers-Newton at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre.

“I’ve watched a few of the finals. I think it is quite good that a lot of the spectators were English,” said Bianchi, who is a member of Aldi’s Rising Stars, a programme that supports 20 young athletes by providing a financial award to help with training and competition costs, while also delivering personal development opportunities to many athletes through workshop sessions.

“It seems like a very good atmosphere and it must be good to have a home crowd behind you like that.”

Each year, athletes are nominated to SportsAid by the national governing bodies of more than 60 sports, based on set criteria.

The Rising Stars athletes will receive financial support through Aldi as well as a monthly food voucher, to fuel them through training, competitions and to future Olympic and Paralympic Games.

And Bianchi admitted she had thoroughly enjoyed her first taste of major competition in Romania.

“It was really good all round,” Bianchi said. “It was quite nerve-wracking at first because there are so many other swimmers from other countries, but I got used to it.”

Bianchi’s final competition for the time being was the British Junior Championships, not long after returning from the Euros, with the City of Sheffield Swim Squad member winning the 200m breaststroke and 4x100m medley relay.

Her progress this year has come after she was selected by SportsAid to be part of the Aldi programme.

Bianchi said: “That’s been helpful in allowing me to pay for fees.

“It’s also allowed me to go to competitions in other cities, although Bucharest was the first time that I’ve ever competed abroad.”

Aldi is the Official Supermarket Partner of Team GB and ParalympicsGB and have partnered with Team GB since 2015, ParalympicsGB since 2022 and will be supporting them through to Paris 2024