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Swimming - 18. August 2007.


The British Swimming squad will be in action in Chiba, Japan (21st to 24th August) at what is being billed as the biggest international event of the summer calendar and National Performance Director Bill Sweetenham is expecting the standard to be very high.

"It's going to be a fast meet and we're going to see some strong performances," said Sweetenham. "Some of the best nations in the world will be sending large teams and this is highlighted by the U.S. who will have a team of 60 plus.

"Our British team is a mixed group and we're without our relays so it's smaller in that respect but it's got some high-calibre competitors and we'll be expecting them to go well.

"The team contains some real medal prospects for Beijing as well as a younger group of talented athletes who may well be there but are looking towards the London Olympics as their main focus."

Since the FINA World Championships in Melbourne a number of events have been held around the globe but the Chiba meet offers the British squad a real insight into what to expect climate-wise in Beijing next summer.

Temperatures of over 40 Celsius and high humidity are to be expected and Sweetenham is pleased his swimmers will be able to realise this now without dealing with the shock of it in 12 months time.

It's an important part of the preparation for Britain's swimmers in the run up to Beijing and experience gathered now will only serve them well next year.

"This meet is part of the process and not an end result but it will give the British squad an ideal taste of what they will have to cope with in Beijing," explained Sweetenham.

"It's an Asian experience where the language, culture and diet will be so very different and any way the athletes can learn to cope with that now with a view to practising it in China will be of real benefit to them and the team as a whole."

Sweetenham also believes it's the perfect environment on which to sign off the long course (50m) season and to send out the right messages to rivals who also share Olympic aspirations.

"It's their last meet and I'm sure the guys will be looking to go out on a high and show their intentions 12 months out from an Olympics," said Sweetenham.

"Swimmers and coaches in Britain this summer had the option of a number of meets to attend but I feel this one will provide the toughest test.

"Everyone has taken a different approach and experienced a different combination of events but throughout them all we've seen some very fast swimming and we'll certainly be expecting best times as you have to target that aim to compete at this level.

"In Paris, Indianapolis and Bangkok this summer we've seen some quite impressive performances from the swimming world. Records have fallen like nine pins and this is set to continue in Japan."

The Japan Open Meet takes place 21st to 24th August in Chiba. The British Female team comprises:
Kirsty Balfour - City of Edinburgh
Julia Beckett - Loughborough University
Rebecca Cooke - City of Glasgow
Jess Dickons - Borough of Stockton
Ellen Gandy - Beckenham
Fran Halsall - City of Liverpool
Kate Haywood - Loughborough University
Jo Jackson - Derwentside
Jemma Lowe - Borough of Stockton
Caitlin McClatchey - Loughborough University
Hannah Miley - Garioch
Lizzie Simmonds - Lincoln Vulcans
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