Grant Robins hoping for the 'best Games ever' ahead of Commonwealths

He’s been given the ‘purely exceptional’ task of leading Team England’s swimmers at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – and Grant Robins has got high hopes for the ‘best Games ever’.

On the first day of the historic year which will see Birmingham playing host to the iconic event, Robins expressed his excitement ahead of what he hopes will be a ‘fantastic’ opportunity for those involved.

With just 209 days to go until the swimming leg of the games begins on 29 July, he described the ‘great privilege’ he feels leading England’s swimmers and para-swimmers to the competition.

“We want to have the best games ever,” he said. “This opportunity doesn’t happen very often.

“I was fortunate enough to do the Gold Coast which was brilliant but to lead your country in a home Games is purely exceptional.

“It’s a different job, there are different things I’m getting involved with like ensuring the pool is great and getting involved in the test events.

“We’re building a team along the way as well but it’s a great privilege and something I’m really pleased and humbled to be involved with.”

‘Creating the right environment’

Robins said that holding the position of swimming team leader for the 2018 Commonwealth Games puts him ‘in good stead’ ahead of Birmingham.

“The learning curve going into the Gold Coast was huge for me,” he said. “I was fortunate to be able to rely on expertise within Swim England and British Swimming so I came away from the Gold Coast thinking ‘we did good’.

“That experience and things that we’ve been involved with since will hold me in better stead going into Birmingham for sure. I know the system, I know the responsibilities, the mandatories that we definitely have to do.

“Ultimately I’ve had a handle on creating the right environment for our swimmers to swim as best they possibly can.

“All of those learnings from the Gold Coast are helping me build the culture as we go in, work out what the routines are going to be. I am hugely better prepared going into Birmingham than I was going into the Gold Coast.”

Key dates in the pipeline

Swimmers and para-swimmers hoping to qualify for the games have a busy year ahead. Robins outlined some of the key dates in the pipeline, with the first milestone being the BITSIMS event in Aberdeen in February.

“After BITSIMS, it’s the British Championships in early April which incorporates a trials for the Commonwealth Games.

“Birmingham has got a brand new pool which is being built at the moment so we’ve got a test event in May.

“In between that, there’s the World Championships and Para-swimming World Championships so we’ll be keen to see how those performances go.”

So far, some pre-selections have been made following the Tokyo Olympic Games which saw Great Britain winning a record eight swimming medals.

“We’ve pre-selected some swimmers from Tokyo and those letters have gone out so we do have part of our team.

“Of course, this is a para event as well, it’s the only opportunity we get to see swimmers and para-swimmers competing under the same banner and in the same team.

“We’ve been working with British Para-Swimming and that’s been really good and we have identified who is likely to be on the team going forward.”

‘Come around quickly’

Robins commented on how preparations have been going so far and how he expected the event will ‘come around quickly’

“The stakeholders we’re involved with [British Swimming, Swim England and Commonwealth Games England] are really proactive and good supporters of ours.

“There’s a small team looking at how the Commonwealth’s can benefit aquatics moving forward which is great. Our holding camp is going to be in Loughborough University and working with them has been really positive.

“We’ll do a kitting-out day in Loughborough on the 20th of July and do our anti-doping responsibilities on that day as well making sure that we’re fully aware of those going into the Games.

“We actually move into the village on the 25th of July and will be in the village for a few days before the Games actually starts for swimming on the 29th – the day after the opening ceremony.

“There are some key milestones there and things to put markers down and really go for. It will come around really quickly.”