Double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington believes Great Britain is finally starting to produce the depth in numbers to compete in the pool on the big stage.
Retired swimmer Adlington claimed two thirds of Team GB’s medal haul at London 2012, winning bronze in both the 400m and 800m freestyle while Michael Jamieson took silver in the 200m breaststroke.
Fast forward two years however and British swimmers were celebrating a far larger haul of medals at this summer’s European Championships in Berlin, ending the meet with 24 medals, nine of them gold.
It came off the back of a successful Commonwealth Games for the home nations in Glasgow, including double gold for England’s Adam Peaty and Ben Proud – aged 19 and 20 respectively – while 20-year-old Ross Murdoch pipped Scotland teammate Jamieson for gold in the 200m breaststroke.
And Adlington believes it is the performances of the younger swimmers, as well as more established competitors such as Fran Halsall and Hannah Miley, which show Britain are a force to be reckoned with.
“Great Britain’s swimmers had a great summer,” said Adlington, who is an ambassador for the Legacy Games Days run by Everyone Active and Fit for Sport.
“It’s always tough at the Europeans because it falls at a funny time in the calendar, a lot of swimmers are ready for a break but the team went out there and did a great job and built upon the strong performances at the Commonwealth Games.
“What was pleasing is that the younger swimmers were putting in good performances too and that was a real positive.
“There is so much more depth to the team now, it’s not just one or two swimmers that are being identified as the one to watch but a real handful and it’s about time that happened.”
Peaty in particular is someone Adlington will be keeping a keen eye on having offered her advice as his mentor.
The breaststroke swimmer set a new 50m world record of 26.62 seconds while claiming four golds at the Europeans, although Adlington expects him to continue getting better.
“I think as an athlete, the majority of the pressure to do well comes from yourself,” she added.
“The thing about Adam is he is so determined and dedicated in the sport. He has really learnt how to race and what tactics to use and when.
“He now has a world record to his name but the thing is that is still his personal best and he will want to keep breaking that as his own personal mark.”
© Sportsbeat 2014