Swimming to launch two national centres
British Swimming has unveiled plans to launch two national centres that will provide the foundation for the sport across Great Britain as it continues to prepare for the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The British Gas GBR National Centres for Swimming at University of Bath and Loughborough University will become performance hubs for the sport from the beginning of the new year.
The centres will grow from their current centre-based training group programme to a more all-encompassing approach to preparation, development and education for both athletes and coaches both within and from outside the centres.
National Performance Director for British Swimming Chris Spice is pleased to be able to start the Commonwealth Games year with the National Centres in place to support preparation of the home nations.
“These new British Gas GBR National Centres for Swimming will be driven by a real ethos of learning and development for all of those athletes and coaches who have been identified as being able to achieve their potential on the international stage,” said Spice.
“Athletes and coaches both from within and from outside of the centres will be able to utilise world class facilities, sport science and medicine support as well as development and educational services within these unique performance environments.”
The National Centres will adopt an open door policy for athletes and coaches within the world class system and they will be invited to attend both performance and sport science testing programmes.
“We will be encouraging coaches and athletes to utilise the National Centres as they take on a performance hub role,” explained Spice.
“Athletes aligned to our programmes will be assigned to the National Centres for medical screening, performance analysis and coach education. It’s important to change the training environment and add fresh stimulus while expanding on knowledge and these centres allow us to do this.”
Stephen Baddeley, Director of Sport at the University of Bath, said: “We’re proud and excited to be named as hosts for one of British Swimming’s two National Centres.
“British Swimming is one of our key partners and we worked together closely on the development of the Bath Intensive Training Centre, which has become one of the most successful high performance centres in the country.
“Today’s announcement will take this relationship on to the next level and I’m confident the National Centre in Bath will play an important role in the development of successful British swimming teams for the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“We offer a range of world-leading facilities on one site,” he added. “The wider role of the new National Centres is also particularly exciting given the University of Bath’s academic reputation and its consistently impressive performances in higher education surveys and ranking lists.”
Peter Keen, Director of Sport at Loughborough University, said: “I am delighted that British Swimming has confirmed Loughborough University as a National Centre for Swimming, and that we will therefore continue to support the best swimmers and coaches in the country as they plan for and train towards Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.
“The timing and significance of this decision is particularly relevant for us as the University is preparing to launch a new, ambitious strategy for sport which aims to build even stronger partnerships with major national sports organisations.
“At Loughborough we believe we offer a unique sporting environment that balances the demands placed on students aspiring to be international athletes. Our facilities and expertise, alongside our strong sporting ethos will help to ensure that high performance Swimming will feel at home on our campus. My colleagues and I very much look forward to supporting the efforts of British Swimming to raise its game and achieve its potential.”
As each of the venues sit within a university campus there will also be a residential element to what the National Centres can offer. This will first be utilised at both centres in February when athletes and coaches gather for a national relay camps.
Spice believes this new direction for British Swimming will provide increased support and performance research to a wider group of athletes.
“British Swimming felt this was an opportunity to refresh the elite end of the sport and in doing so we’re challenging ourselves to strive to get better.” said Spice. “These will look and feel like National Centres which is vitally important as we need to provide the right environment within which to pursue excellence.
“We’ve made the environment much more challenging for both athletes and coaches in order that, collectively, we make the improvements that are necessary on the world stage.”
Coach education will also play a large part in the role of the National Centres and the appointment of a new Coach Education Manager in the new year will see the centres act a regional hubs to educate elite coaches of the future while working with the current crop.
The British Gas GBR National Centres for Swimming, Bath will continue to be lead by Head Coach Dave McNulty and supported by Assistant Coach Graeme Antwhistle.
Head Coach Kevin Renshaw will continue to lead the British Gas GBR National Centres for Swimming, Loughborough working with National Sprint Coach James Gibson. They will be supported by a graduate assistant coach in the new year following a selection process that has attracted nearly 80 applicants.