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|August 29, 2000||
British swimmers impressed by Olympic poolMitch Phillips in Sydney
British swimmers preparing for the Olympics on the Gold Coast have been shaking their heads in amazement at the bountiful local facilities.
While they can count the number of 50-metre pools in Britain on the fingers of two hands, they find themselves surrounded by 35 Olympic-sized facilities on the Gold Coast alone.
"It's incredible really and a bit frustrating" said veteran Karen Pickering on Monday. "We were at Perth for the world championships and they had more pools in a single complex there than we have in the whole country."
"It makes you appreciate that we are doing quite well as a nation."
One Gold Coast suburb is constructing a new 10-lane Olympic pool, not to replace its existing eight-lane facility but to sit alongside to deal with the overspill.
Britain has just proudly unveiled a multi-million-pound aquatics centre in Manchester, part of the facilities for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, but Pickering said she was disappointed that it featured only an eight-lane centrepiece.
"It's a shame we're still not building better facilities but I believe the Commonwealth Games will be a great opportunity," she said.
"Publicity for swimming is improving a great deal and we do have somebody working in that area now."
"Also people are staying in the sport longer, becoming more recognisable. At the trials the kids were going mad for the posters, getting autographs etc, more than I've seen before."
"Generally we get a lot of exposure during the Olympics. Then it all disappears after two weeks.
"You do get a bit jealous when you come over here and see what a huge sport it is but it's the same at home where we have to compete with other sports."
British swimming performance director Deryk Snelling feels that Australia's dominance of the sport has more to do with history than with facilities.
"Yes, of course it's easier to encourage people to swim when you've got great pools and nice weather but that shouldn't be such a huge advantage," he said.
"It's not always sunny here and as we get better indoor pools at home we should be able to close the gap."
"What is important though is that you've got a natural tradition here, so many great stars over the past 50, 60 years. We are improving but have a long way to go to match that."
Mail Sports Editor
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