THE BLOG

Let's Not Get Carried... But Let's Get Excited!

08/09/2014 17:25 BST | Updated 08/11/2014 10:59 GMT

Following on from the British swimming success at the Commonwealth Games the European Championships held in Berlin last week was the first test to see how good the team's performances really were against a more developed international competition.

Yes, yes, the usual caveats apply, no Americans, no Chinese, but we were up against the best of the Europeans, which is pretty special considering the success that the French and Germans have had in the past. And of course the Eastern Europeans have always managed to produce some very strong performances especially from Ukraine and Russia.

And you know what?... the British Team did much better than I expected or anyone could have predicted. We secured more gold medals than we have ever done and produced some real beaters, breaking world records in the process.

There were some spectacular races from our finest swimmers and I reiterate what I said last week; British Swimming has never been this good. We have a depth in the team that in all my 23 years on the team I have never seen before. What pleased me most was that prior to Glasgow, many of our best swimmers have never produced their best performances when it mattered and always fell short at international competitions. This year it has been different and it really is a case of success breeds success.

It's no surprise that currently we are good at breaststroke, because historically we have always been good at breaststroke. When David Wilkie was Olympic champion, Duncan Goodhew was chasing him and he became Olympic champion. Eight years later Adrian Moorhouse became Olympic champion and Nick Gillingham Olympic silver medalist, and so on all the way to our current world record holder, Adam Peaty.

I have always maintained for some of our swimmers being the best in Britain is the be all and end all - but this does not apply anymore.

We have had lots of swimmers for whom being the best in Britain means you are 25th in the world and we have found it hard to push those swimmers on from that position.

This year however, this is changing. After the Commonwealth Games and now the Europeans, we have several events where we have five people in the top 20 in the world. Now that's real depth.

And look at the results:

  • Adam Peaty - 50m breaststroke gold and world record, 100m breaststroke European champion and Commonwealth champion
  • Chris Walker Hebborn - 100m backstroke European champion and Commonwealth champion
  • Ross Murdoch - 200m breaststroke Commonwealth champion and silver at Europeans
  • Ben Proud - Commonwealth champion, 50m free and 50m butterfly
  • Fran Halsall - Commonwealth champion (50m Butterfly, 50m free), European champion 50m freestyle and 50m backstroke
  • Hannah Miley - Commonwealth champion, 400m individual medley
  • Siobhan Marie O'Connor - Commonwealth champion, 200m individual medley
  • Jaz Carlin - 800m freestyle European champion and Commonwealth champion and 400m freestyle European champion

These stellar performances inspired the rest of the team to do well and we ended up bagging a total of nine golds, seven silvers and eight bronze medals - our best ever results.

We just need to maintain this high standard and ensure that our talented swimmers continue to be guided by talented coaches.

We have always had a lot of talented swimmers in Britain, but a great swimmer with a good coach, does not mean Olympic medals, world champions or world records. A great swimmer needs a great coach to get the best out of them and more importantly give them the right training.

To echo what I said in last week's blog, what's different this time is we have great coaches. James Gibson, John Rudd, Melanie Marshall and David McNulty really are amongst the best in the world. It's these people that are really going to make the difference in Rio in 2016.

We are two years into an Olympic cycle and the next two years are going to be really important.