Swimmers arrive earlier to acclimate to British conditions

Updated: 2012-07-11 12:40:29

By Cecily Liu (chinadialy.com.cn)

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Leeds - Chinese swimmers are training hard at their pre-Olympic camps in the British cities of Leeds and Bath, with a view to better their 2008 performances.

The camps are helping them to acclimate to British conditions before heading to the Olympic Village on July 23.

Hao Qiang, executive head of the Chinese pre-Olympics training camp in Leeds, said on Monday that the practice of establishing overseas training camps is a lesson "learnt from other countries during the Beijing Olympics".

In the past, Chinese athletes would train in China, and travel straight to the Olympic villages, but differences between China and the Olympic host cities in terms of time zones, weather and food affected the athletes' performances.

The group of 23 swimmers training in Leeds includes Li Xuanxu, the 18-year-old bronze medalist in last year's Shanghai World Championships women's 1500 meter freestyle and Lu Ying, the 23-year-old bronze medalist in the women's 100m butterfly at the same event.

Training sessions are held daily in a 50m pool in the John Charles Centre for Sport, a facility owned by the Leeds City Council, as well as a 25m pool in The Edge Sports Centre, at the University of Leeds, where the athletes also have access to gym facilities.

Yuan Haoran, head of the Chinese swimming team in Leeds, said the team booked two slots of three hours each day at the John Charles Centre for the athletes to use according to their needs.

With nine lanes, the John Charles Centre swimming pool is spacious and modern. Hanging above the lanes is a banner featuring the Olympic rings and a Chinese flag, accompanied by the words "the official preparation camp headquarters for the Chinese Olympic committee".

Because Leeds is where the Chinese Olympic Committee chose to base the camp, the city will soon welcome another seven teams, who will represent China in table tennis, taekwondo, fencing, track and field, boxing, canoe slalom and women's hockey.

However, some Chinese athletes have decided not to base their training in Leeds.

Another group of swimmers, which includes Sun Yang, who smashed Australian Grant Hackett’s 10-year-old men’s 1,500m freestyle world record with a time of 14 min, 34.14 sec last year, will train at the University of Bath in southwest Britain.

Yuan said the Bath swimming training camp was established because John Charles Centre was not large enough to accommodate all the Chinese swimmers, as a prior commitment was made by the Leeds Council to host the Dutch swimming team.

"From next week onwards, we will be sharing the John Charles Centre pool with the Dutch swimmers, but we will be having separate training slots," said Yuan.

A third group, which includes Beijing Olympic gold medalist Liu Zige will head straight to the Olympic Village on July 23.

Yuan said Liu had made this decision with her coach to ensure continuity of training in China.

According to Yuan, all the swimmers are in good condition, and it is hoped that the team will "win more gold medals than it did in 2008".

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Chinese swimming team finished with one gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

"We achieved good results at the 2009 Rome Worlds and last year’s Shanghai Worlds, but we also recognize that the Olympics is a more competitive event," he said.

"We hope to achieve better results in men's swimming, because Sun Yang holds a world record. We are also expecting good results in the women’s 200m butterfly, in which Liu Zige and Jiao Liuyang will compete" he said.

At the Beijing Olympics, Liu and Jiao finished first and second in the event.

Medal Count

1 46 29 29
2 38 27 22
3 29 17 19
4 24 25 33
5 13 8 7
6 11 19 14

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