Swimming: Three bodies set to merge

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The three governing bodies of the sport in Britain - the Amateur Swimming Association, the Scottish ASA and the Welsh ASA - are set to merge into one single organisation before the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The Amateur Swimming Federation of Great Britain (ASFGB), the body currently responsible for organising British teams for international events, issued a discussion document yesterday reviewing the way swimming is run in this country.

Two of the main recommendations of the report - produced by a review group made up officials from the ASA, SASA and WASA plus the ASFGB and Sports Council - is the development of a single governing body for the sport under the leadership of a newly-created position of National Performance Director of Swimmming for Great Britain.

There have been two previous attempts since 1945 to form a GB Association which, according to the report, were unsuccessful 'due to failure to agree on issues such as finance, or more fundamentally because of particular personalities who wished to preserve their particular position.'

But this latest attempt has a much greater chance of success in view of the pressure for change following Britain's poor performance at the Barcelona Olympics and at the world championships in Rome in September, where, for the first time, Britain failed to win a single medal.

Alan Clarkson, chairman of ASFGB, said: 'The purpose of the recent review was to give us a base on which to set all future plans.

'We had to know how the sport was perceived and organised by all those involved, so we could plan the next stage.

'As expected, we discovered some areas of weakness, but we also discovered that our sport as a whole is in a very healthy state. What all parties are trying to do now is ensure that this continues well into the future.'

The contents of the report will be discussed at a special conference in the next few months, with progress reports then submitted to next year's annual meetings of the ASA, SASA and WASA.

The review group say they expect that the proposed changes 'will be in place from 1996'.