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STRONG CHALLENGE AWAITS IN AMERICAN WATERS
British swimmers will put the fatiguing effects of a three-week intense training camp behind them when they face tough competition at a California meet that attracts some of the sport's richest talents.
Members of the U.S. swimming team that was so dominant at this year's World Championships will provide the challenge to a 16-strong British outfit that goes into the Novaquatics Speedo Grand Challenge meet in Irvine feeling the effects of a demanding training camp in Arizona.
British Head Coach Ian Turner has challenged and pushed the group over the past three weeks in Phoenix and is pleased with how the swimmers have responded at what is a vital time in their season.
"The camp went well and we saw the guys put in a lot of very good work," said Turner. "There were plenty of high-quality training sets and strong competition throughout between the Backstroke and Freestyle groups.
"A consequence of the athletes' impressive efforts means they'll be quite tired but they're upbeat and looking forward to racing. There's been a great team atmosphere throughout our tour and that will be instrumental this weekend where we'll be looking for solid performances if not spectacular."
Turner is confident the camp has achieved it's aim of introducing the athletes to a large amount of training at the beginning of a 12-month-period that will shape their Beijing 2008 Olympic aspirations.
And one of the key elements to the camp was enhancing the swimmer's ability to perform in the most competitive of environments and Turner has been delighted with what he's witnessed.
"The athletes go into the event not only off that back of three week's hard work but they'll also feel the effects of continuous competition against each other," explained Turner.
"We brought this particular group together because individually they're all extremely competitive and each training session, without exception, featured personal duels in every lane of the pool."
Despite the tiring effects of the camp, Turner and the squad as a whole have high expectations.
"I'll be disappointed if any of the swimmers finish more than 3% above their best times but we're targeting their performances to finish within 1%. It's a big ask, and the guys will be racing many events over the three days, but they're a tough bunch hence our targets.
"They'll be facing a quality field in California. It's a relaxed meet but it will feature world-class entries as well as many of the top Americans who took the sport of swimming to an entirely new level at the Melbourne World Championships in March."
The Novaquatics Speedo Grand Challenge takes place from 25th to 27th May at the William Woollett Jr Aquatics Complex in Irvine, California.
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FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS