Bath ITC improves from just two swimmers to produce Olympic medallist

Last Updated: 06/11/12 12:09pm

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Michael Jamieson: Claimed silver in the 200m breaststroke in London

Michael Jamieson: Claimed silver in the 200m breaststroke in London

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Following on from the London 2012 Games, one sport in particular which received criticism was swimming, after a below-par performance by Team GB.

The findings of a review into this performance at the Games are due to be published in December, and some fairly substantial recommendations are anticipated.

However, the negative feedback from the pool this summer does not necessarily take into account the success of specific swimming programmes in Britain.

Only four years after its inception, Bath ITC has gone from having just two swimmers to producing an Olympic silver medallist.

It was in Beijing that coach Dave McNulty guided Jo Jackson to the bronze medal in the 400m freestyle and little more than two months later, he found himself in Bath along with Graeme Antwhistle. However at the time, there were just two swimmers from the university group awaiting them.

McNulty admits it was "a bit of a shock to the system" yet just four years on, he watched in London as Michael Jamieson claimed silver in the 200m breaststroke whilst Andrew Willis was eighth in the same race.

"That was a bold statement a year out but I think if you are going to stand on the podium you need to say that."

The baby of the team, Siobhan-Marie O'Connor who is still only 16, and Chris Walker-Hebborn also competed in London. They have also now been joined by former European champion Lizzie Simmonds, fourth in the 200m backstroke.

In 2009 Jamieson arrived in Bath and by McNulty's own admission he "wasn't a big hitter", however the following year they changed his technique to mirror that of Japanese quadruple Olympic champion, Kosuke Kitajima.

Bold statement

In 2011 at the World Championships in Shanghai, Jamieson and Willis were fifth and eighth and it was after that the former made his intentions clear to his coach.

McNulty said: "When I spoke to Michael this time last year he said he wanted a medal.

"He wasn't ranked to get a medal, he went into the Olympics about 11th or 12th, he had slipped down the rankings a little bit.

"That was a bold statement a year out but I think if you are going to stand on the podium you need to say that. You need to have that belief because I don't think you make the Olympic podium by surprise: I think you've got to believe it first."

Jamieson, 24, was a late bloomer. He went for years without funding, spent time in Paris living in an attic room with a single pull-out bed, no washing machine or freezer, one hub to cook on and a small shower that doubled up as a wardrobe.

The Scot has nothing but good memories though and McNulty agrees this gave Jamieson extra hunger.

Jamieson returned to his hometown of Glasgow after London, where the turnout at the athletes' parade finally highlighted to him his achievement and the public's appreciation.

The swimmer returned to the south west to the relentless regime after eight weeks out of the pool, which at its peak will see him churn out 65,000m a week in 10 two to two-and-a-half hour sessions.

Then there is 10-12 hours of land work including cardio-vascular work such as spin classes and running, weight sessions and also strength and conditioning.

Alongside this Jamieson is undertaking a degree and although he admits it is relentless, he believes these hard tasks make all the difference especially given his desire to continue until Rio in 2016.

Looking ahead, McNulty knows Jamieson must aim to go under the two-minute six-second mark but he believes this is just the start for his charge.

He said: "He has come back very level-headed: he has had a taste of what it can bring and I think it has spurred him on even more. This is the start of him - certainly not the end."

McNulty is also hopeful for Willis declaring "his time will come" and is mindful of the fact having two top exponents in the same group can spur the other on.

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