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University swim coach to lead Scottish talent at the Paralympics

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Jim Anderson and Kerry Wood
Paralympic swimmer Jim Anderson and coach Kerry Wood

Swim coach Kerry Wood will use her own major games experience to help her squad to success at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Wood, née Martin, represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in 1998 and 2002, setting a then Scottish record in Manchester.

The University of Stirling Sports Coaching graduate now coaches the Stirling Integrated Performance Squad, which is supported by the University, Scottish Swimming and Stirling Swimming.

And she will be in charge of six swimmers, including local hero Jim Anderson, when the Paralympics begin on Wednesday 29 August.

She said: “I have been with Scotland teams before in a coaching capacity but this is my first major Games with Team GB. The expectations of being in a major Games environment, I know what that’s like.

“Yes it’s the Paralympics, but ultimately it is just another swimming pool – everything is the same as any other swimming gala – and if the squad can approach it like that then it will stand them in good stead. It will be a big challenge, but it’s exciting and I am really looking forward to it.”

The full British squad has just departed for a week-long preparatory camp in Manchester, giving the swimmers a final chance to hone their skills and enable the coaches to get to know their swimmers.

One swimmer Wood already knows well however, is Freestyle and Backstroke specialist Anderson, the two working together daily at the University pool. London is Anderson’s sixth Paralympics and the 49-year-old will be looking to add to his incredible haul of 17 medals.

Woods added: “This is what Jim and I have been working towards for the past three years, and the target is to come back with a medal or maybe even more. There are lots of younger guys coming through aiming to beat Jim so he knows he will have to perform at his best.”

Also competing in the swimming at London is Stirling psychology and Sports Studies graduate Charlotte Henshaw, who starts with the 400m Freestyle S8 on Friday 31 August.

Making his Paralympics debut is current Sports Studies student Scott McCowan, who is also supported by national sports scholarship programme Winning Students.

McCowan will represent Team GB in Boccia, competing in the BC3 Mixed Pairs and Mixed Individual from Sunday 2 September. The 21-year-old from Kilmarnock is now tapering his training before joining the full team at a holding camp in Bath next week.

He said: “We’ve had a number of squad camps recently and it has been going very well, so now it’s more about keeping an eye in, but not tiring ourselves out. Watching the Olympics has got everyone pumped up, seeing Britain do so well was really inspiring and now we can’t wait to get going.

“The aim is to win a medal and there is no reason to think we can’t. Our results have been good and we feel we have the players to do it; it’s just about who puts in the best performance on the day.”

Before McCowan gets underway, former Stirling student Gordon Reid, who continues to train at the Scottish National Tennis Centre on campus, begins his wheelchair tennis singles competition on Saturday 1 September.

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