THE BLOG

A Week in Barcelona

06/08/2013 08:43 BST | Updated 05/10/2013 10:12 BST
AP

As expected it was a fantastic week of swimming in Barcelona at the World Championships, with some brilliant and inspiring performances.

But it wasn't a great week for British swimming in terms of medals, only achieving one bronze on the last day from Fran Halsall, so there is much we need to learn and improve on.

After a disappointing Olympics in London, nearly half of the senior British team retired, including Double Olympic champion, Rebecca Addlington but we have three years to re-build the team from the bottom, for Rio and we should have a better showing at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year.

However, when nations like France;- four gold, one silver and four bronze, can fair so well on the world stage, questions need to be asked why GB cannot do as well if not better. Even Denmark, not known as a swimming nation, won one gold and three silver, indicates that there is something wrong with our approach and big lessons to learn.

But it's not all doom and gloom.

There is real talent in the squad, which gives us the raw materials, but we need to look at the system and the coaches. Personally, I think we should encourage, rather than penalise, swimmers travelling abroad to train and study with some of the best programmes in the world.

Training along side the best swimmers and training under the best coaches, will grow a confident team unafraid of world-class competition. We have some great coaches in the UK, but we need to learn more and this needs to happen quickly. We need to bring in a variety of coaches and mix up the cross training. They do it football and it works! Our swimmers need to race more and against better competitors. We don't race nearly enough on the world stage.

We should travel Europe and the world as a squad and take people on, as we sometimes seem to be slightly intimidated when we step on the blocks against the best. Well, if you don't do it, regularly, the doubts will creep in.

Three years is a good period of time to iron out our mistakes and get stronger, but the world keeps moving on and we mustn't get left behind.

But let's not take away from what we did achieve. Well done to Fran Halsall - a bronze in the women's 50m freestyle in a stacked field after having just changed coaches in January to James Gibson, was a good result, although I know she really wanted gold and on a good day, could have got it.

I know James, I used to train with him and we were good mates, he knows his stuff and Fran will go from strength to strength, this is one swimmer and program I have no fears about.

And we did get a few near misses with fourth places, this means we are in the running for medals.....

So what can we say about the meet overall?

Ruta Meilutyte at the grand age of 16, added a world gold to her Olympic gold in the 100m breast stroke, seriously smashing the world record in the process. She trains in Plymouth so clearly we have something good going on in the UK which we need to bottle to encourage some home grown talent.

The King is dead, long live the Queen!

Michael Phelps was not here but the superstar baton was passed to another American.

Missy Franklin became the first women to win six titles at the world swimming championships and I think there is still more to come. Yes, she really is that good and can do much more. Her starts and turns are average! Yes, average for someone who wins every race she enters - there seems to be no limit on what she can do in the next few years.

Well actually she came fourth in her first individual race, the 100m freestyle, but I think at still 18, once she has stopped growing, (well at 6ft 1 I think she may of stopped) she will grow stronger which means more power off the block and off the walls. It's frightening where she can take the sport...

But there were other notable performances

Katy Ledeky made the water steam. She swept the middle and long distance events; 400, 800 and 1500 freestyle and managed the 800 and 1500 in World record times. And she is only 16.

Like Franklin, there is much more to come. I think she will add the 200 to her racing menu.

Sun Yang from China, swam brilliantly again and won 400, 800, 1500 freestyle,.

He will dominate over these events for the next few years and if he stays focused will be a legend in world swimming.

As ever, for me, one of the highlights was the interview with Chad le Clos's Dad, Bert. He never disappoints in his enthusiasm and clear love and pride in his son's achievement and simply delivers great TV.

The future? Well, London will host the 2016 European Championships and the European Masters Championships, British Swimming announced today. Both events will be held at the beautiful London Aquatics Centre.

I think this is my cue to get back in and bring some medals back to British shores. If only...