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Swimming - 18. September 2007.


A British team of three will contest the Shantou leg of the FINA series before travelling to Hong Kong for the next event in the waters of Repulse Bay just a week later.

The events will provide both swimmers and coaches with a valuable insight into climate and conditions in Asia ahead of next summer's Beijing Olympics and is the main concern of head coach Sean Kelly (Stockport Metro).

"Our aim for these events is to gain as much experience as we can of racing in Asia in the summer months," said Kelly. "It's going to be hot, humid and the water temperature will be high but it will provide a glimpse of what we can expect at next year's Beijing Olympics.

"It will be the last outing of a long season for these athletes but it will be worth it as it will give them a very good idea of what to expect of the conditions in just under 11 months' time."

Preparations have been geared towards next summer and the Olympics as opposed to the next two events, and this has seen the swimmers following a short break with a dedicated gym programme but they are now back in the water clocking up 70,000m a week.

"Our aim is for the best result in Beijing and not during these next two weeks and therefore the athletes won't be in the best racing shape but this is an important part of the process leading to the Olympics," explained Kelly.

"The Beijing dream begins in February at a South African event which gives entry to the Olympic qualification event in Seville next May.

"That's the immediate focus and from there we will be looking to Beijing and the event which is new to the Olympic programme."

For Patten (Stockport Metro) and the team the two events will provide another chance to test themselves against a world field that is constantly evolving, with many pool-based swimmers making the transition, due to the sport's inclusion on the Olympic programme.

"I'm looking forward to the events, it's a great way to familiarise yourself with an environment that will be very similar to Beijing next summer," said Patten.

"The climate and conditions will tell us a lot as well as the smaller details such as what food we should and shouldn't eat. It's all very important when you're preparing for an Olympics.

"We've been back in the water now for three weeks after a short break but it will be a good test of our fitness at this stage in our programme."

The Shantou, China leg of the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup takes place on Sunday 23rd September at Xin Jinhe. The Hong Kong leg takes place on Sunday 30th September at Repulse Bay.

The British team comprises:
Alan Bircher (University of Bath)
Cassie Patten (Stockport Metro)
Keri-Anne Payne (Stockport Metro)
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