WHEN swimmer Rebecca Adlington won Olympic Gold for Great Britain in Beijing it signalled a new dawn for the sport in this country.
And, as we approach London 2012, swimming is one of the areas in which the home nation is hoping to do particularly well.
Wrexham Swimming Club already has a reputation for producing top performers.
The club, which trains at Wrexham Waterworld, is where another Great Britain swimmer, Lowri Tynan, learnt her trade.
2010 has been a particularly successful year for the club. Members brought home a staggering 62 gold medals from their last two swimming galas. There were also 119 personal best times recorded and countless records smashed.
Lowri, a former Ysgol Morgan Llwyd pupil, won her first Welsh National gold at the age of 12 and hasn’t looked back since. She went on to win gold at the British ASA Nationals in the 50 metres breaststroke and competed in the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Wrexham Swimming Club’s new head coach Mike Price has been charged with turning the next generation of promising swimmers into champions like Lowri.
Mike has coached for seven years, working with the North Wales and national squads, and is hoping to bring his expertise to the Wrexham squad.
Despite only being in the role for a short time he has been impressed with the depth of talent at the club.
He said: “We have competed in some major national and regional competitions and they have shown the amazing talent and potential we have here in Wrexham.
“My job is to nurture that potential. My plan is to implement an elite training programme, giving athletes the best training possible in the pool.
“But I also want to bring in other training methods, such as land training and educate swimmers on nutrition and hydration, strength and conditioning.
“We have excellent facilities here at Waterworld and I believe we have the talent to complement that.”
The talent was on display last week in Sheffield at the British Gas ASA National Youth Championships.
Two members from the club, local-boy Wil Rosson and Fiona Clarke, from Flintshire, competed against the best young swimmers in the country at Ponds Forge international sports centre.
Preparing for such a competition isn’t easy. Fiona and Wil are in the pool by 5.30am most mornings and will train for about an hour and a half before going home for breakfast and then school.
After the school bell has signalled the end of the day, the pair return to the pool for another long training session.
Wil, 14, is a pupil at Ysgol Morgan Llwyd and is hoping to follow in Lowri’s footsteps. He is a member of the Welsh regional swimming squad, which identifies talented swimmers and provides them with elite coaching and competition with the aim of producing future international swimmers for both Wales and Great Britain.
Wil competed in the 100 metres freestyle, winning a bronze medal, as well as putting in a good performance in the 200 metres freestyle.
Wil said: “It’s an honour to represent Wrexham at this prestigious swimming competition and I really hope I can do well, not just for myself but for my coach and the club.
“I’m proud of being Welsh and would love to go on and represent my club at senior level and keep Wrexham on the swimming map.”
Fiona is 17 and a pupil at Connah’s Quay high school. Her hard work and determination over the years paid off as she qualified for the British Youth Championships in the 200 metres breaststroke.
“It was a great experience going to Sheffield to take part in the championships,” she said.
“I’ve been putting a huge amount of time and effort into training over the last year and can’t wait to put it into practice. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my coach and the club and most of all my parents.”
Mike is encouraging Wil and Fiona to learn from their experience in Sheffield.
He said: “The meet is the biggest domestic competition in Britain and you must be swimming at a high standard even to just qualify.
“Wil and Fiona worked tremendously hard to qualify for Ponds Forge, but the main thing I wanted from them was to enjoy the experience. This was the first time they have competed at such a big competition and it has provided them with some valuable experience as we build towards the future.”
Wrexham Swimming Club is looking for a sponsor. For details call Mike Price on 07563779247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org