Team GB swimmers will not attend the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony


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The Independent Online

There will be no British swimmers at this Friday's opening ceremony at the Olympics with the pool programme set to start the next morning, it was announced today.

Although the competition runs from Saturday to Saturday it was a decision taken as a team that they would not attend the ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.

Neither will Keri-anne Payne attend despite the world 10 kilometre open water champion not competing until August 9.

James Goddard, who will compete against Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the 200 metres individual medley, was one of three GB swimmers, along with Payne and Robbie Renwick, who spoke to reporters at the final team press conference.

He said: "One of the things about this team is the swimmers get a lot of input into our preparation into the Olympic Games.

"And as a group of swimmers with (national performance director) Michael Scott and a couple of the other staff we sat down and as a team we decided not to go to the opening ceremony because performance comes first.

"Athletes have got to make many sacrifices in their lives.

"Ideally we'd all like to go but performance comes first and we all respect that decision.

"It's a long day, there's a lot of walking involved, a party atmosphere I suppose, especially with it being the next day we need to stay relaxed and focused on our race."

Payne was in the spotlight for much of the press conference and she revealed she had just come from the Serpentine where she had been the first athlete to test the course.

Having encountered jellyfish, dead dogs and boiling hot water before, a few ducks and reeds were unlikely to hinder the Stockport ITC swimmer.

She said: "I've just come from the Serpentine, the first athlete to have swum in it which I think is quite cool.

"There were lots of very excited volunteers who were very helpful.

"I'm glad I did it for the taste.

"I had to fight with a couple of ducks though to get past the buoys.

"It's really nice water to swim in - the only thing was that with all the reeds I got a little bit tangled in the reeds but I've learned from that now."

Scott insisted there was no illness or injury in the team despite the non-appearance of Hannah Miley who had been expected to attend.

The reason given for that was that training and recovery was the priority.

Scott added: "We've focused on the small things that can make the difference in and out of the pool

"We learned from Shanghai (World Championships) last year where we missed three medals by a very small margin and we had focused on doing the little things right to make sure in London 2012 we are successful as a team.

"London 2012 is a critical launching pad for the sport for the future."