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Swimming - 20. October 2008.

British Swimming unveiled European Championship Squad

British Swimming's celebrated Olympians and next generation of swimmers will take their first step along the road to London 2012 in December when they compete at the LEN European Championships (25m) in Croatia.

Thirteen athletes from the Beijing Olympics will combine with a number of swimmers competing for the first time at senior international level for Great Britain but all will appreciate the starting point on their journey towards 2012.

And the event in Rijeka (11th to 14th Dec) will also provide newly appointed British Swimming Head Coach Dennis Pursley with his first opportunity to lead a British team into a major international arena.

"My immediate aim is to start the process of instilling, within the team, the philosophy and focus of the programme in building towards maximising success in 2012 and beyond," explained Pursley. "We'll be looking at everything in that context and not as an event in itself.

"For some of the competitions we've highlighted over the next four years, the time on the scoreboard might not be the most important consideration in positioning ourselves for long-term success.

"We may be looking at race strategy or focusing on weaknesses individually or as a group, highlighting these and working to strengthen them. It's part of a process and in a performance sense there will be times where we'll take a step back, analyse and address and then take two steps forward."

The team comprises a mix of youth and experience, athletes who've experienced the most intense international competitions and those at the beginning of their careers on the national team.

The likes  Hannah Miley will share her knowledge and experience with exciting British prospects such as  Jazmin Carlin.

This opportunity for many of the younger, developing swimmers is a valuable one that will provide guidance while they continue to grow as international swimmers.

"I think the European Championships offer a great chance to the younger swimmers on the team not only in terms of the level of competition but also the interaction and experiences they will take from other swimmers who've competed at major international events before," said Pursley.

"This will work to their benefit in the long-run as they will have this exciting exposure early on in their four-year plan. It's a great opportunity to be on a team with some of our most accomplished swimmers and learn from them."

Pursley has high expectations for the British squad but sees the European Championships as part of a four-year programme and long-term process towards success.

"My expectation anytime we represent Great Britain is that each athlete will make every effort to be the best they can possibly be on the day given their individual circumstances and we'll be going into Croatia with that in mind," he explained.

"Typically in a post Olympic year our coaches and athletes are going to approach competitions this close to the Games very individually. After a four-year preparation for a very emotional, peak performance at the Olympic Games, athletes may take a longer break and consequently take longer to get back to a high level of competition.

"However, the performances in Beijing will have inspired many others and as a result they would have got right back into training with great enthusiasm and determination. We're looking forward to seeing that."
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