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22 March 2007 PR 07/37

Swimmers given Olympic boost ahead of world championships

Loughborough University swimmers have the chance to qualify for next year’s Beijing Olympics with some strong performances at the World Swimming championships, which begin in Melbourne this weekend.

“We intend to use the world championships to pre-select any swimmer (for the 2008 Olympic Games) who finishes fourth in any Olympic event here,” Great Britain national performance director Bill Sweetenham said in Melbourne.

Sweetenham added they would need to seek British Olympic Association approval for their early selection policy, which will also include selection for the 2008 European championships in Eindhoven in March and the 2008 short-course world titles in Manchester in April, but he felt it was the best way for the swimmers to prepare themselves for Beijing.

“By doing that, we will focus our best athletes on an August preparation for next year rather than the March (Olympic) trials,” said Sweetenham.

“We see the World Championships as a start of our preparations for the Olympics next year and hopefully we can uncover some talent that can stand up under international pressure in terms of preparing for the 2012 London Olympics.”

Double Commonwealth champions Caitlin McClatchey and David Carry head a 10-strong Loughborough contingent in the British squad in Melbourne, while Ciara Farrell will swim the 50, 100 and 200 metres breaststroke events for Ireland giving the University 11 swimmers at the championships.While the swimmers have been given a boost with the possibility of qualifying early for Beijing, Sweetenham had previously warned the team they should not lose focus.

“These World Championships aren’t an end in themselves but just one in a series of preparations ahead of Beijing,” Sweetenham said before the team arrived in Melbourne.

“The event should be part of a swimmer’s preparation for the Beijing Olympics. In my view the summer events the British swimmers will attend this year will be more important as it gives a clearer indication of where they are exactly a year out from Beijing.

“Olympic medals will be won in training over this next 12 months and not by winning titles at a World Championships.

“Swimmers will gain confidence from good results but it’s not racing in Melbourne that will deliver that Olympic podium place - it’s about the preparation that is done now (and) these next couple of weeks will serve as a reality check to see where people are in their programmes.”


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Notes to editors

Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough in the top five among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

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