SWIMMING: Snelling instils sense of success

SWIMMING SHOULD be all about racing, but often it is about beating the clock, which can be the only familiar sight in an unfamiliar environment. However, the introduction of semi-finals at this week's European Championships, which start today in Istanbul, will put the emphasis on the one reason everyone is here - to race.

Paul Palmer has welcomed the new format, which will also be used in the Sydney Olympics next year. "The sport is about winning races and this will make a lot of the races more tactical. I think it is a great idea," he said. "And hopefully, people will see the semis and want to find out what happens in the final the next day."

The 38-strong team arrived here on Friday and, for once, came without the empty rhetoric of being the best prepared team ever, and hoping for a medal or two. This time the senior swimmers have been together as a team since 1994 and they grow stronger with each other's successes. Palmer joins James Hickman, Mark Foster, Sue Rolph, Alison Sheppard, Karen Pickering and Graeme Smith as an elite group that can win multiple medals for Britain, and who will be disappointed if they do not exceed the two gold, one silver and three bronze medals from Seville in 1997.

Since Deryk Snelling was appointed the national performance director after Britain's dreadful showing at the Atlanta Olympics three years ago, he has made two specific changes which appear to be working.

The first was to throw money at swimming. It seemed everyone was taken on a national team training camp and included in international meets. Criticised for it at the time, Snelling knew that for the cream to rise to the top he needed plenty of milk. And in Britain at the time that he took charge, there was just not enough. Snelling has been proved right as his decision has raised the general standard of the national team, making those at the top work harder to keep their places.

The second change was to bang his head against the wall of English tradition, and force the message through that swimming is a team sport and that British swimmers have every right to stand on medal podiums the world over. The last three years of international travel and competition has finally created a group who are not afraid to win and who increasingly see their team-mates doing so.

Snelling's focus on developing the relay squads has proved to be the right move. The men's 4 x 200 freestyle team are the defending European champions and the women's 4 x 100 freestyle team are expected to improve on the bronze they won two years ago. This initially created eight world class swimmers who know what it is like to win medals. Add to this the individual successes, and it is becoming a formidable team, focused on success in Sydney and beyond.

One of the highlights of this week will be Foster's attempt to win two individual gold medals. In both the 50 metres freestyle and 50m butterfly, he has held the short course world records. In the long course, 50m pool he will dispute the title of "fastest man in water" with the European record holder and triple Olympic champion, Alex Popov, of Russia.

Today though, sees Foster and James Hickman begin with the 50m butterfly. Paul Palmer will be defending his 200m freestyle title and Sue Rolph starts her week in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay team.

Here in Istanbul, the wind blows off the Bosphorus to cool a sweltering city. It is hoped that the same blast of fresh air, which caused havoc at the weekend for the divers on the 10m tower, will assist the swimmers as they shrug off their amateur past, and step from Istanbul across the threshold to a new, professional, exciting future that will lead them on to Sydney.

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own