Relays vital to overall World Championship performance
On the eve of the FINA World Championships in Russia British Swimming Performance Director Chris Spice has highlighted the importance of the relays to the future of the sport.
British Swimming enjoyed an impressive season in 2014 across its relays but will be looking to build on that going into the eight-day World Championships which start tomorrow in Kazan.
“We want to be known as a relay nation,” explained Chris Spice. “We’ve got an opportunity now to build on the successes we achieved last year at both Commonwealth Games and European Championship level.
“These next eight days, against the backdrop of the inspirational Kazan Arena, will show us how far we have come as we push to take them to the next level. It’s going to be very exciting as we have relays that will be pushing for good results.”
The home nations won six medals across the relays at the Commonwealth Games, including one gold, before combining as Great Britain at the European Championships to secure two golds and a bronze.
And based on performances at the British Swimming Championships in April, the relay teams continue to look in good form going into Kazan.
“Our medley relays have performed best over recent times and the front end of the men’s squad is improving all the time,” said Spice. “We need to start well and come through, and we have Ben Proud, Calum Jarvis and Duncan Scott all in with a shout for a spot on the back end of the medley relay.
“The men’s 4x200m freestyle squad has real depth and we saw that last year at the Commonwealth Games across the home nations. I’m looking forward to seeing how these come together as Great Britain.
“Robbie Renwick is the older, wise head and leader of a group that features Nick Grainger, James Guy, Stephen Milne, Dan Wallace, Scott and Jarvis. They are all in contention for a place and that’s the kind of depth that other nations have enjoyed for years and we’re building that now in Britain.”
Spice feels the men’s 4x100m freestyle is currently a work in progress but has high hopes for the future based on the early promise of winning this relay at the last two European Junior Championships.
In the women’s events Spice is looking forward to seeing the athletes come together as a British force.
“The difficulty last year was our seeing our best athletes split up at the Commonwealth Games but now we can bring the likes of Jazz Carlin, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, Hannah Miley, Rebecca Turner, Ellie Faulkner, and Jess Thielmann together for a strong 4x200m freestyle.
“We have some good options in the medley relay also. O’Connor is a very versatile swimmer while Fran Halsall is a great anchor - the other spots are up for grabs and this is a great motivator as everyone on the British team wants to be involved in the relays.”
Top 12 finishes at the World Championships would qualify the Great Britain relays for Rio with a second opportunity also coming at the European Championships in London next May.
“This year gives us a great idea of where we are with the aim of continuing to build towards next year and the Olympic Games,” explained Spice.
“It’s vital for British Swimming so we have been careful with our relay sections to provide cover across the teams and we’ve gone for a blend of experience and youth.”