Manchester and its dedication to aquatics

16 Nov 2009

Manchester may be preparing to host one of the biggest swimming meets Britain has ever seen in Duel in the Pool but the city’s involvement in aquatics runs much deeper.

With almost eight years of world class aquatics competitions taking place in the city, Manchester’s impressive track record, including hosting the 2002 Commonwealth Games and 2008 FINA World Championships (25m), made it the obvious choice for Britain’s Showcase event of 2009 – the British Gas Duel in the Pool.

The British Gas Duel in the Pool will provide a unique opportunity for fans to see the world’s greatest swimmers going head-to-head for supremacy in the pool.

As the Manchester Aquatics Centre prepares for the likes of Michael Phelps and Rebecca Adlington to dive in on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th December Councillor Mike Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure at Manchester City Council, is hoping that there will be a lasting legacy from Duel in the Pool.

"Manchester is delighted to be hosting this exciting event and to be welcoming the very best swimmers from both sides of the Atlantic to the city,” said Amesbury. “Having received accolades last year by building a temporary pool in the MEN Arena for the FINA World Swimming Championships, it’s great to host a major swimming event at our premier swimming facility.

“Whilst recognising the profile and exposure that the ‘Duel in the Pool’ will bring, Manchester is committed to ensuring that our residents and communities benefit from the opportunities that this event will create."

As part of Manchester City Council’s commitment to aquatics, initiatives at both the grass-roots and elite level of the sport have put them at the forefront of aquatics.

Water Polo is one of Manchester’s jewels: with the High Performance Centre for both the senior men’s and women’s teams being based at the Manchester Aquatics Centre it is the heart of the sport in Great Britain.

Playing host to the LEN Women’s European B Nations Trophy earlier this year, fans got to witness the British Gas Women’s Water Polo team capture the title. Two years earlier Manchester watched on as the men’s team took on some f the most promising teams in LEN European B Championships at the Aquatics Centre.

The City of Manchester Water Polo Club has grown with the infrastructure now helping local schools feed players into the sport. Both the junior and senior team are currently, or have been, champions in the National Water Polo League or National Women’s Water Polo League.

Manchester Aquatics Centre is also home to one of British Disability Swimming’s High Performance Centres, where Paralympic medallists have access to excellent facilities on a daily basis.

But Manchester has a strong commitment to disability swimming within the region. Nicky Boothroyd, Manchester’s Strategic Disability Sport Officer, works to integrate able-bodied and disabled swimmers and, where possible, pools in the Manchester region have been adapted to make this possible ensuring there are accessible programmes and clubs for disabled swimmers.

From competition to participation, Manchester is also dedicated to getting the community involved in aquatic activities.

With 11 pools in the Manchester region offering Free Swimming to the under 16s and over 60s Manchester City Council have seen more people take to the pool than in recent years.

Having allowed the children to get in the pool for free over the summer, Manchester has seen an improvement in the attainment figures for children swimming 25m at Key Stage 2 as part of the School Swimming Programme.

The authority is now looking at re-programming all of the pools to meet the demands of the local community based on feedback from pool users.

Manchester is also the base for one of the ASA’s seven nationwide Beacon Programmes. Launched in May 2009, the programme encompasses the whole spectrum from learn to swim right through to elite level swimming as an ASA initiative to provide programmes of coaching and development at every stage of the talent pathway while encouraging continued lifelong participation in aquatics.

The Beacon Programme provides extra 50m pool time to some of the region’s top swimmers and coaches. It aims to get more young athletes into the pool while providing them with high-quality coaching.

Manchester is dedicated to providing world class aquatic facilities and will be a key in the development of all areas of the sports in the lead up to 2012.

For further details contact Lauren Sanderson, British Swimming Media Assistant, on 01509 632236 or email

About British Swimming

British Swimming is the National Governing Body for Swimming, Diving, Synchronised Swimming, Water Polo and Open Water in Great Britain.  It is responsible internationally for the high performance representation of the sport. The members of British Swimming are the three Home Countries national governing bodies of England (ASA), Scotland (Scottish ASA) and Wales. (Welsh ASA)  British Swimming seeks to enable its athletes to achieve gold medal success at the Olympics, Paralympics, World Championships and Commonwealth Games.

About Manchester City Council

As host of the British Gas Duel in the Pool, Manchester continues to strengthen its impressive reputation for successfully hosting major international sports events, recognised when the City was awarded the SportBusiness Sports City 'Gold' Award in 2008. This year has seen no let up with the staging of innovative events such as the City Games, that brought the phenomenal Usain Bolt to the streets of Manchester, Skyride, that opened up the City Centre roads for a mass participation cycling experience and most recently the World Netball Series that showcased a fast and exciting version of the sport to packed galleries at the MEN Arena. Whilst the City recognises the profile and economic benefits that these events bring, its excellent range of accessible sports venues and facilities, combined with its school and community sports development programmes ensure that residents see real legacy benefits.

About British Gas

British Gas is Britain's favourite domestic energy supplier. As well as providing gas and electricity, it also installs and maintains central heating and gas appliances in millions of homes throughout the country. British Gas is very proud to be the principal partner of British Swimming and home countries: The ASA, Scottish Swimming and Swim Wales. British Gas is supporting the team's quest for medals on the world and Olympic stage - and giving as many people as possible the opportunity to learn to swim and use swimming as part of a healthy lifestyle. British Gas wants to ensure local pools remain at the heart of our communities. By using its expertise, it can help them reduce costs by being more energy efficient and safeguard the facilities for this and future generations. For more information visit

About Speedo®

The world’s leading swimwear brand, Speedo® is passionate about life in and around the water, creating revolutionary new technologies, designs and innovations. Supporting swimming from grass-roots through to elite level, including the phenomenal Michael Phelps, Speedo® is owned by Speedo Holdings B.V and distributed in over 170 countries around the world; SPEEDO, the ARROW device, FASTSKIN, LZR PULSE, SPEEDO ENDURANCE, FLIPTURNS, FASTSKINFSII, SPEEDO BIOFUSE, SWYM and LZR RACER are registered trademarks of Speedo Holdings B.V. The LZR RACER suit has worldwide design rights and patents pending.

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