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Jacob Whittle's coach says his Tokyo campaign will 'spark ambition'

Jacob Whittle’s coach has said his performances in Tokyo will ‘spark ambition’ in young swimmers after he set a new English record while competing at his maiden Olympic Games.

The 16-year-old is the youngest member of the Team GB swimming squad, yet he hasn’t allowed the pressure of the glowing Olympic rings to deter him from swimming fast.

He posted a time of 48.11 in the 100m freestyle to shave 0.09 off the previous record of 48.20 held by Simon Burnett at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Whittle said of his performance: “Being in that GB squad, it gives you a lot of drive. We’re a very motivated team and they’re all competing at such a high level. 

“For somebody like me, just starting to break on to the world stage, it’s amazing they can share that experience with me.”

‘Sparks ambition in young people’

Whittle swims under decorated British coach Jamie Main at Derventio Excel, who has coached multiple swimmers to European and Commonwealth medal success and was assistant coach to four-time Olympic medallist Rebecca Adlington.

Main said that Whittle’s performances in Tokyo have the potential to ‘spark ambition’ in young people, commenting: “It’s vital to see GB swimmers achieve at the highest level. It helps people realise what’s possible. It sparks ambition in young people.”

Speaking specifically on the effect that Whittle’s success has had on his team at Derventio, he said: “He’s definitely inspired his teammates and the younger members of the DX programme. It’s all they’ve talked about the last few months.

“Jay is young in years however he’s got a mature head on his shoulders. He knows if he swims fast, displays great values then he’ll inspire a generation of swimmers back home.”

Main commended Whittle for being a ‘role model’ for those around him and also younger swimmers in general, saying: “The values we try to instil at DX are commitment, courage and care. Jay is an excellent role model, he displays these qualities on a daily basis.

He noted how ‘proud’ he felt when Whittle broke the English record in his main event, and said: “I was proud. He delivered on most of the things we’d worked on this season.

“There’s always a couple of small details to improve – that’s the exciting thing, he’s going to get faster.

“It’s nice to celebrate the record however there’s plenty to aim for moving forwards, that’s the real motivation. He’s also still in the Olympic team environment so there’s an important supportive role to fulfil there for the other guys.

“We’ve always had belief in what he could achieve. The great thing about Jay is he’ll always keep his feet on the ground.”