The new crop that has British Swimming has produced may be the answer to the questions asked after a disappointing 2012 home Olympics and 2013 World Championships.
It interesting to note that with the exception of Dan Wallace, Great Britain’s 2015 World Championship Roster haven’t moved to the United States to train at college or post graduate level. In fact, many of the youngsters such as James Guy signed professional contracts while still in high school. This suggests that Britain is becoming a more competitive place to train. More British youngsters are signing professional contracts as early as high school to aid in their preparation for Olympic success rather than to compete in the NCAA.
This new generation of British talent is also pushing the veterans of British Swimming to help the country move forward. They will be more competitive because of this new generation for the forthcoming World Championships and next year’s Olympics.
The men’s breaststroke is a prime example. The rise of Adam Peaty and Ross Murdoch has seen 2012 Olympic Medallist, Michael Jamieson miss out entirely on selection and Jamieson will need to significantly raise his game if he intends on going one color better at Rio.
Murdoch and Peaty, however, are not the only people that Jamieson needs to be aware of. Craig Benson, Andrew Willis, and James Wilby all competed at the commonwealth games and British breaststroke seems to be one of the most competitive fields, not just domestically, but internationally too.
On the freestyle front, the constant improvements made by James Guy seem to have had a positive impact for the British 4x200m freestyle relay. Robert Renwick’s winning time at 2012 trials of 1.47.33 would have only been good enough for fifth at this year’s British Championships. The top three athletes: Guy, Renwick and Jarvis all under the 1.47 barrier. Guy, therefore, is pushing the veterans of British swimming to higher levels and improving their chances of podium places on the freestyle relay.
On the female side with the retirement of Rebecca Adlington, many people questioned who would be able to fill her shoes. The consequence was a like-for-like replacement in the form of Jazz Carlin whose 400m and 800m times from British trials are in the world’s top 3 for the year.
It is not, however, just Carlin who has seen her performances improve since the disappointment of 2012 and 2013. Siobhan Marie O’ Connor has become a global threat in the 200 IM and helped push other British competitors, most notably Hannah Miley but also Francesca Halsall, in the 100m freestyle.
For many years Miley was the dominant, untouched figure of British female medley swimming but the arise of O’ Connor and Aimee Wilmott has seen Miley step up her performances significantly in both the 200m and 400m distances. The consequence was a comfortable victory in the 400 IM at British trials, thus leading to the second rank in the world at the moment.
British Swimming seems to be moving forwards in the right direction. Regardless of how well Britain has been swimming at the European, Commonwealth and National championships, the world stage will be where we see if there truly has been a revival. Top eight finishes from the past need to be turned into podium finishes and I do believe that it will only take one medal to inspire the rest of the team to push on and achieve similar success.