The coach to Commonwealth Champion Ross Murdoch has been appointed to lead a new swimming programme at the University of Stirling which can be “the best in the world”.
Ben Higson has taken up the reins full-time as the University’s High Performance Swimming Coach following a successful secondment before the Commonwealth Games. Ten swimmers under Higson’s watch made the Glasgow Games, with Murdoch winning Gold and Bronze medals whilst Cameron Brodie and Jak Scott took Relay Silver for Scotland.
Higson is joined by assistant Steven Tigg, former Head Coach of Falkirk Integrated Regional Swim Team (FIRST) and the duo are delivering a new-look programme devised in partnership with Scottish Swimming and supported by the sportscotland institute of sport.
“The target of the swimming programme at the University of Stirling has never changed – to achieve results at the highest level, said Higson, a Stirling graduate who retired from elite swimming in 2010, having represented Scotland at the Celtic Tri Nations and US Open Championships.
“We aim to continue that success, but also to improve on it which means for our swimmers not just to qualify for tournaments, but to come home with medals. Our ultimate goal is to make the programme at Stirling not just the best in Britain, but in the world.
“The relationships between the University, Scottish Swimming, the sportscotland institute of sport and British Swimming are crucial in providing us with the support staff who all play a huge collective part in putting our swimmers onto podiums.”
“Bringing in Steve, with all his coaching insight and knowledge, has allowed us to expand the numbers in the squad and we have a nice blend of youth and experience. We have a strong recruitment policy and this is paramount to the success of the programme. It’s not just about finding the best of the best; it’s about recruiting developing athletes who have the right high performance mindset to reach the highest levels.”
The programme brings together student swimmers, graduates and full-time swimmers, all competing domestically for the University of Stirling Swimming Club.
Four-time Olympic finalist Robbie Renwick and Olympian Craig Benson are two new recruits to the Stirling squad whilst up-and-coming talents include Commonwealth Relay Silver medallist Duncan Scott and British Swimming Podium Potential squad swimmer Jordan Hughes. The programme also supports open-water swimmer Danielle Huskisson and has integrated support for talented disability swimmers.
Their rigorous weekly schedule comprises 32 hours training, split between the gym and the pool, each swimming enough lengths to travel from Stirling to Glasgow.
Stirling was the first Scottish university to offer swimming scholarships and many swimmers now also receive support from national sports scholarships Winning Students, enabling them to combine their training with study for an academic degree.
Swimmers at Stirling train on campus at the National Swimming Academy, which has a six-lane 50m pool which can split into two 25m pools and has an adjustable floor depth. Alongside the pool is a land conditioning area and state-of-the-art fitness and sports science facilities.
Raleigh Gowrie, Sports Performance Manager at the University of Stirling, said: “I am delighted to welcome Ben Higson and Steven Tigg to the University of Stirling as they lead an exciting new performance swimming programme at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence.
“Stirling has a proud track record in supporting swimmers in their development towards Commonwealth, Olympic, Paralympic and World Championship goals. We will continue to work together with Scottish Swimming and the sportscotland institute of sport to deliver a bright sporting future for talented swimmers.”
Scottish Swimming Chief Executive Officer Forbes Dunlop, said: “Scottish Swimming is very happy to continue the partnership with the University of Stirling. The campus offers a great environment to train with excellent facilities and access to support services from the sportscotland institute of sport. With Ben Higson and Steven Tigg now in place as coaches, we’re looking forward to the continued success of the programme on the national and international stage.”
The National Swimming Academy opened in 2002 funded by sportscotland, the University of Stirling, the Robertson Trust and the Gannochy Trust.
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