Inside October 2016 Olympic Special

Swimming Times is the only magazine for British aquatics. Read about the latest issue below. Click on the buttons to reveal the story.

News round-up

  • A scheme that aims to make swimming more accessible for deaf young people has won a prestigious national award following a public vote. It received almost 2,700 votes to be named the UK’s Best Sport project in this year’s National Lottery Awards.
  • The Great Britain and Northern Ireland Transplant Swimming Team have been winning medals again, this time at the European Transplant Games in Vantaa, Finland. The Games were divided in two: the European Transplant and Dialysis Games saw the GB and NI swimmers win 12 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze medals and at the European Heart and Lungs Games, the 10 GB and NI swimmers won 18 individual medals, 11 of them gold.
  • Liverpool has officially announced plans to bring the 2026 Commonwealth Games to the city. Britain’s chosen city will be formally confirmed in 2018, with suggestions that Birmingham might also be interested. 

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Glint of gold

History was made on August 10 at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Centre in Rio when Jack Laugher and Chris Mears won Britain’s first-ever diving gold medal at an Olympic Games.

The pictures of two very proud and smiling divers on the podium made the front pages of most of the British newspapers and were a good reflection of the hard work put in by the boys, their families and coaches.

Jack’s silver in the individual 3m and Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow’s bronze in the 10m synchro made this Games the best-ever for Britain in terms of diving, and great credit should go to all involved. The previous best medal haul for diving at an Olympics was two medals (both bronze) at the 1960 Rome Games.

The Chinese divers, however, maintained their dominance, winning seven of the eight events. They make me smile: unwavering, undemonstrative, unflappable and – in many ways – unbelievable, such is their excellence, with the historic achievement from Laugher and Mears the only blot on an otherwise perfect record for the country.

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Peaty Perfection

Adam Peaty delivered the five fastest 100m breaststroke times in history to lead Britain’s best medal haul in the Olympic pool since 1908 – but there may be even better to come.

He didn’t so much move the goalposts of international breaststroking as shift the entire pitch. In eight days that saw Britain reel in its best medal haul in the pool since 1908, Adam Peaty delivered the five fastest 100m breaststroke swims in history to become Britain’s first male Olympic swimming champion for 28 years and give the Americans a run for their money in the medley relay. The other good news is that he won’t be stopping there.

The ink recording the 21-year-old’s new world record of 57.13 was barely dry before there was talk of two more Olympics for him, a new time target of 56-something – and a serious crack at the 200m. ‘He’s got eight more years in him,’ said his coach at City of Derby, Mel Marshall, to whom Peaty gives much of the credit. ‘It’s going to be a great eight years.’

It has already been a great two years for Peaty, who arrived in Rio unbeaten over 100m during that time and with world, European and Commonwealth titles already to his name…

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Marathon swimming

The Olympic 10k marathon produced a double Dutch victory but there was disappointment for Britain’s medal hopefuls – and anger from Jack Burnell.

It was led by a man called Poort and won by a man called Ferry but Britain’s Jack Burnell was in no mood for nautical humour after being controversially red-carded while fighting for a medal. The Loughborough-based swimmer was just two metres from the end of the men’s 10k marathon when he received a second yellow card and became one of two men disqualified. Team GB’s appeal was unsuccessful.

Burnell, who was involved in a mad scramble for the finish board, described the DQ as an ‘absolute joke’. ‘They’re giving yellow cards out left, right and centre for absolutely nothing and then disqualifying people two metres from the end when there’s people grabbing hold of legs and everything,’ he told the BBC. ‘The whole thing was ridiculous. The first yellow card I got was coming down the back straight. I was second, there was nobody either side of me and the guy pulls out a card. I couldn’t have physically touched anybody.’

For the neutral, the men’s marathon was a thriller. Australia’s Jarrod Poort made an early break and was 57 seconds ahead after the first of the four laps. After two laps the gap had grown to 1min 16sec. Poort was still well ahead after three laps but from then on the chasing pack were gradually eating into his lead. The gutsy Australian was finally swallowed by the pack after 1min 39min – just 13 minutes from the finish – and ended up 21st.

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Fast lane

From a pea soup diving pool to open water controversy, from Lochte’s hair to Phelps’ cupping scars, it was the Games that had everything – including GB medals. Jimmy Rogers takes a sideways look at Rio 2016.

Not even a pea soup diving pool, vocal disapproval of some Russian competitors or an over-enthusiastic Brazilian commentator could prevent these Olympics from challenging our own efforts four years ago.   

London 2012 still evokes great memories and rates high on the excite-o-meter but Rio 2016 in the pool certainly didn’t disappoint and will be remembered for some quite extraordinary races and the almost obligatory glut of new Olympic and world records.

The excitement even extended into the call room. CCTV caught Chad le Clos shadow-boxing around a seated but visibly irritated Michael Phelps ahead of their 200m butterfly clash. The Baltimore Bullet came out fighting and delivered a winning sucker punch on le Clos and the six other pretenders to the people’s champion in the final.

There was no end of superlative GB swims, the best ever. Our medal winning individuals, teams and diving duos deservedly make it into my personal ‘Great Swim’ category as do those who made semis and finals. Our gold medal winners should be applauded extra loudly though: Adam, of course, who left scorch marks on the water surface and Jack Laugher and Chris Mears, who left the highest marks on the scoreboard in the synchro diving to become our first diving Olympic gold medallists.

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Charlie Stevens

At 18, Brentwood SC’s Charlie Stevens is thought to be the youngest head coach in the country. He told Swimming Times about his swimming and coaching background and the philosophy that helped him to land the job.

How did you get the job with Brentwood SC?

Martin [Stringer, Harlow SC head coach] found out that Brentwood were short of a coach and offered me the chance to help them out.

So I had already been helping the club out when the head coach job was advertised last February. Other coaches said I might be too young and not have enough experience. But I thought I would go for it although I didn’t really expect to get it.

I was interviewed by the then chairman John Gold and the committee members. They asked about my philosophy as a coach and how I thought the club could improve. They seemed to like my enthusiasm and the ideas I brought to the club at a young age.

Tell us about your coaching philosophy

I believe in creating a coaching environment where all swimmers can thrive to the best of their abilities. The poolside should be viewed by all team members as a classroom environment. That environment should remain uninterrupted during the duration of any training period. The needs of a novice swimmer are no less or more important than the needs of an elite swimmer and vice versa. I believe this helps to get the best out of all swimmers…

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Summer special

The Stockport Metro ‘wolfpack’ homed in on eight gold, three silver and six bronze medals to top the overall medals and points tables for British clubs at the ASA Summer Championships in Sheffield.

One of the highlights of the swimming season for the youngsters, these championships did not disappoint with more than 1,200 swimmers contesting 552 medals. Swimmers competed across five age groups and in multi-classification races with teams travelling from Canada and Ireland to share in the camaraderie.

Most notably, Andi Manley, former head coach at Derventio eXcel, travelled with a team of six swimmers from his new club Ontario Swim Academy (OSA Canada) and astonishingly won 17 gold medals, three silver and one bronze.

For the British clubs, though, Stockport Metro claimed eight gold medals, three silver and six bronze (247 points) to rise to the top with Nova Centurion’s seven gold and three bronze placing them second on the medals table (third on points with 180) and UEA City of Norwich awarded a medal tally of 11 to take third place (six gold, three silver and two bronze) and 10th on points (148). 

It was City of Salford’s 181 points that saw them lie second on the points tally but sixth in the medals table with four gold, three silver and six bronze medals.

The male members of the ‘wolfpack’ clutched five of the club’s eight golds and, along with one silver, saw them take the top.

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Honesty Box

The former president of Jersey Long Distance Swimming Club and veteran of five Channel swims in five different decades reveals that she was born in the heart of Africa and met her husband on a Channel relay.

Nobody knows this but… most people assume I was born in Jersey but I was actually born in the Belgian Congo and spent the first three years of my life there. My father worked for Unilever managing coffee and rubber plantations. We were evacuated in 1960 when the big uprising started. French was my first language then. My parents spoke it fluently and when we came to Jersey, I had to learn English. That’s also when I started to swim in the sea. We didn’t have any indoor pools then. That’s why I’m a seawater baby rather than a pool baby.

The biggest lesson life has taught me is… to laugh, to love and to live life as if it’s the last day; accept everything that is thrown at you, do the best you can and treat everything as positively as you can. We are all lucky we are here.

My proudest moment is… being appointed MBE in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to swimming. And before that, it was being inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 2005.

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Pools of the Trade

Chipping Norton Lido

Bob Holman was in good company when he checked out an Oxfordshire pool whose past visitors have ranged from Jeremy Clarkson to David Cameron.

I pressed the remote control to lock the car and turned towards the pool entrance. I could already hear the hubbub of lido life in the background. Someone must be having a really good time!

I was met by Ben Sims, who was acting as duty manager on the day. ‘Liz is expecting you but she’s sorting out a little problem with the coffee machine in the café at the moment,’ he said.

Liz Cooke, the pool manager, was soon to emerge from the café but for a while I chatted to James Woolley, who was lifeguarding on poolside. James had been an instructor for windsurfing and sailing in Greece and Abu Dhabi until recently but was back in the UK for the summer and was looking to settle down. ‘I’m really enjoying my summer at the lido,’ he said. ‘It’s great fun!’

This was, of course, the pool that Jeremy Clarkson famously drove his car into for the Top Gear programme and apparently he still does a charity auction for the lido each year. Whatever happened to him?

The pool has been run by Chipping Norton Lido Ltd, a charitable trust, since 2005 and would have closed but for its intervention. It was open this year from April 21 to September 11. The pool measures 25 metres long by 9 metres wide and is kept at a constant 29–30C temperature throughout the summer, heated by a combination of solar power (60 panels on the roof) and gas boilers.

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