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Furniss praises performances in Glasgow

4 August 2014

British Swimming Head Coach Bill Furniss has praised the collective performance of the home nations at the Commonwealth Games which he believes represents a significant step forward for the sport.

Yet there will be no pause for celebration as Furniss and the British coaches prepare the national team for the LEN European Championships which begin in Berlin next week.

"We did incredibly well but we have to be realistic and recognise that it is not a World Championships or an Olympic Games" - Bill FurnissThe combined British performance at the Commonwealth Games, against the Olympic swimming events on which UK Sport funds the sport, saw a total return of 33 medals – 11 gold, 11 silver and 11 bronze to better the result from four years earlier in Delhi.

“I’m very pleased with the performances and results across the home nations,” said Furniss. “One of the key targets for British Swimming was to challenge the athletes and coaches to move it on in terms of their times from trials. We wanted to see season best swims in Glasgow and also improvements in how well they raced - we certainly saw these.

“We’ve implemented a thorough racing strategy this season and it’s paying off with a much higher percentage of athletes, close to 60%, achieving a season or personal best time at the major meet of the year.”

While Furniss has paid tribute to the teams from England, Scotland and Wales he has also warned of caution by insisting that results achieved need to be put into context.

“I see British Swimming as being on the way back up but this is only the first step,” said Furniss. “We did incredibly well and this has delivered one of our best Commonwealth Games results ever but we have to be realistic and recognise that it is not a World Championships or an Olympic Games.

“Our collective challenge now is to produce this kind of performance in a more difficult environment under increased pressure. When we can do that I will know that we’ve made a significant step forward.”

Furniss was impressed by the overall quality of the championships as well as the emergence of a younger generation of athletes.

“I believe that in terms of the quality of swimming we’ve seen the best Commonwealth Games ever and the home nations’ performances are at the forefront of these,” said Furniss.

“If you look at the Men’s 400m Freestyle it was faster to make a final here than it was at the World Championships last year. Some events have been a little bit softer which we do expect but certainly to win medals has been extremely competitive.

“It’s encouraging to see so many youngsters coming through and we’re seeing real depth in some of the events. Four or five have produced performances which are top three in the world and will probably maintain that position after all of the main events this season.”

The next test for some of the athletes will come in Berlin when the European Championships get underway (18-24 August).

A team of 23 athletes, including Commonwealth Champions Jazz Carlin, Ross Murdoch and Ben Proud, will try to maintain peak performance into the second major meet of the summer but the Head Coach believes the test facing the athletes will be a stern one.

“It’s going to be difficult when our target meet is before the European Championships,” said Furniss. “The Commonwealths, where we are measured against funding by UK Sport, had to be our target for the year as it is so high profile but everyone else in Berlin will be focused solely on the European Championships.

“It will be a smaller team with a mix of juniors and seniors, and we will use it as a development meet where we will try some new strategies.

“There is no doubt that the effort and professionalism we have just witnessed in Glasgow will be of the same, very high standard but the challenge will be to see if we can bounce from one competition to another and keep that quality of performance. That will be a challenge.”

The British Gas GBR Swimming Team selected for the LEN European Championships in Berlin (18-24 August):

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