Team GB swimming director excited by potential for even more success in Paris

The team have achieved their best ever haul at a single Games in Tokyo.

David Charlesworth
Monday 02 August 2021 18:00
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Great Britain’s Adam Peaty, James Guy, Anna Hopkin and Kathleen Dawson receive their Gold medals for the Mixed 4 x 100m medley relay (Adam Davy/PA)
Great Britain’s Adam Peaty, James Guy, Anna Hopkin and Kathleen Dawson receive their Gold medals for the Mixed 4 x 100m medley relay (Adam Davy/PA)

Great Britain’s swimmers can celebrate a job well done at Tokyo 2020 but national performance director Chris Spice is relishing the thought of what comes next and the prospect of even more glory at the Paris Olympics.

Team GB collected a record eight swimming medals with four golds, three silvers and a bronze, representing their best ever haul at a single Games, achieved by those who will have high hopes of going to France in three years.

Adam Peaty at 26, was one of the elder statesmen of the group, which included Olympic debutant Tom Dean, 21, a breakout star at the Games with golds in the individual and relay 200 metres freestyle events.

Eighteen-year-old Matthew Richards would not have been a part of the squad had these Games gone ahead 12 months earlier but goes home with a gold medal, encouraging Spice for what lies ahead.

He said: “One of the great things is that 75 per cent (of the swimmers were) in the first Olympics. The extra year has helped us. No doubt about it. Our team looks totally different than it would have looked last year.

“The experience now that the group have got from coming here, the experience those youngsters have got, we want to get better each Olympics. Our plan is not to stand still. The minute you stand still you get overtaken.

“Our plan is to keep pushing in every single aspect of performance, science and medicine and the innovation projects that we have got going.

“We are still going to push. Our goal will be to be better in Paris. That doesn’t mean it is going to happen because we’ve got to work hard to make it happen.”

Only the United States and Australia finished ahead of Britain in the swimming medals table, but Spice acknowledged those countries, along with one or two others, have greater funding in locating and nurturing fresh talent.

Spice, though, estimates they can go up another gear or two by directing the resources they do get into different channels to discover untapped potential within Britain.

When asked how much better, in percentage terms they can be, the British Swimming chief replied: “I think there is another 10 to 15 in the short-term, but probably in the long term another 25.

“There is still investment going in to different areas that we haven’t got outputs yet. That coupled with the talent we have in this group and the fact that they are young and moving forward is significant.

“There is a whole range of stuff we haven’t hit yet. We have got a bit up our sleeve. Equally we are never going to be as deep as China, Russia and America, we have to maximise our potential, Australia too of course.

“They have got a lot more numbers than us. We have to maximise the talent we have got – we have to get a gem early.”

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