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Swimming - 25. August 2008.

Beijing proves to be step forward for British Swimming

The Beijing Olympics has seen British Swimming emerge as a major swimming nation after seeing six medals won by swimmers on their way to sixth in the swimming medal table.

Beijing proves to be step forward for British Swimming

With a target of three medals set for swimming by UK Sport, the British contingent in Beijing doubled that aim as they smashed one world, six European and 25 British records.

The British team can return home now for a well earned rest before they begin their build up towards the London 2012 Olympics.

National Performance Director Michael Scott has been encouraged by the team's development but acknowledges that the team need to continue to build momentum towards London 2012.

"The performance by the British squad in Beijing has been a very positive step forward but we need to take another significant step forward as we work towards London 2012," Scott said.

"We exceeded UK Sport's aim of winning three medals in Beijing but in terms of our aims we had five more finalists this year than in Athens and we broke 25 British records which is more than the last three Olympics combined. It was a successful Olympic Games for us but we all know that there is far more that needs to be done over the next four years."

The British diving squad was the largest ever contingent of British divers to qualify for an Olympic Games and went to Beijing to gain invaluable experience for the 2012 Olympics.

Beijing proved to be an Olympics of firsts for the diving squad. There were six athletes to place in the top 8 and three individual finalists, which has never been achieved by a British diving squad before and they had Team GB's youngest athlete, Tom Daley, competing in two events throughout the competition.

Steve Foley, National Performance Director for diving, has commended his team for their promising performances and acknowledges that although they weren't at their best the divers are heading in the right direction with their competition development.

"The athletes performed well over here but none of them really found their form," Foley said. "What was encouraging to see was that they were competing well, they made finals and achieved things that a British diving squad has never achieved before.

"We are going in the right direction despite the fact we have come away without a medal and what they have learnt here will set them up for London 2012. The athletes need to learn to step up to hit their peak at the Olympics and they will have left Beijing wiser and with more knowledge to make sure they hit their best performance at the premier event in the sporting calendar."

Alongside the swimmers and divers, we also witnessed a re-emergence of British Synchronised swimming as the duet, which features Jenna Randall and Olivia Allison, moved up an incredible 6 places in the world rankings to 14th and are now 9th in Europe. They can also see they are closing the gap to the world's leading synchro nations.

Synchronised Swimming National Performance Director Biz Price understands the importance of exposing the athletes to as many international competitions as possible and believes they can build on what they have learnt in Beijing.

"The girls have done so well and are ahead of what we targeted," Price said. "It's been a great success for them not only in terms of performance but also in terms of experience.

"The other nations have seen how far the duet has come and there's a real buzz about the British duet at the moment."
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