History beckons for World Championship team

21 Jul 2017

A British Swimming team of 27 has arrived in Budapest and is ready to fight for a place in history when the 2017 FINA World Championships get underway on Sunday.

The eight-day event at the Duna Arena runs from 23-30 July and the British contingent is led by the likes of Olympic Champion Adam Peaty and Olympic medallists Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, James Guy, and Duncan Scott.

All four athletes may have earned the right to stand on the top step of the podium at the last World Championships in Kazan two years ago but this year’s event represents just the first stop of a four-year journey and the eventual destination of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“The last World Championships are history now,” explained British Swimming Head Coach Bill Furniss. “We performed very well but it’s in the past. We’re now at the start of a new four-year cycle and everything is geared towards achieving our best result in 2020 at the Tokyo Games.

“This is a very new team that we have been working with. A third of the British team in Budapest are rookies and while we still have a group growing in experience there are a large number of new performers. It’s an exciting prospect; the start of a new cycle with a new team.”

British Swimming goes into the World Championships off the back of its most successful Olympic Games in 108 years but Furniss does not expect previous performances to determine the results in Hungary.

“Every World Championships or Olympic Games is a separate competition in its own right and we can’t expect results from one to carry over into the next,” said Furniss. “It doesn’t work like that whether it’s tennis, golf or swimming. It’s a case of who is the best on the day.

“Sport would be pretty boring if you could predict who is going to win based on an event that took place 12 months earlier. We want it to be unpredictable; it’s more exciting that way and is what sport should all be about. We don’t want to know who has won the medals before we even start.

“It’s important to remember that at the World Championships in 2013, the first of the previous cycle, we won just one medal yet the cycle itself finished with the greatest Olympic result for over 100 years.

“We will be highly competitive at these World Championships but we have to see the bigger picture and that is producing the best performance of the cycle in Tokyo in 2020.”

The team flew into Budapest on Wednesday following a short training camp in Edinburgh. The camp offered the perfect environment to fine-tune their preparations after an impressive season to date.

“I’m very encouraged by what I’ve seen this season on the training camp in Thailand and competitively in Japan and Rome,” said Furniss. “I was also impressed with the group in Edinburgh but I’m the first to recognise that at every preparation camp of every nation around the world all athletes have also been doing their best training sets and feeling in the best shape of the season. It will all come down to who does what on the day.

“It’s certainly good to see the guys doing some quality sets. It’s great for confidence, doing the best work of your careers, but we have to remember that so is everyone else and that’s why the World Championships is going to be an exciting first competition of the cycle.

“Everyone on the team is here for the same reason. They want to race on the biggest of stages, in front of a TV audience of millions and to be amongst the most elite athletes on the planet. It’s what they work so hard for and sets them apart from the rest.”

Furniss is also looking forward to working with a young cohort of athletes on the team with many making their senior international debut.

“It’s good to see so many new faces on the team,” explained Furniss. “The message for the new guys is to attack the meet; do not feel defensive. They need to enjoy the experience and to learn from it.

“They should not perceive the World Championships as a difficult experience. At the end of the day if they do what they work hard for and take control of the environment then it will be a positive experience for their future.

They have to use the environment and not let the environment use them.”

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