Stirling swimmers jet off to Japan ahead of World Championships

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Swimmers and coaches pictured ahead of World Championships.
Swimmers (L-R): Salvador Gordo, Duncan Scott, Lucy Hope, Steven Tigg (Head Performance Swim Coach), Bradley Hay (High Performance Swim Coach), Paige Van Der Westhuizen, Swaleh Talib, Katie Shanahan, Keanna MacInnes.

Eight swimmers from the University of Stirling – representing four countries – are jetting off to Japan in the coming days ahead of the World Aquatics Championships.

Five swimmers from the University’s high-performance swim programme – including Olympic and Commonwealth Games star Duncan Scott – will represent Britain at the prestigious competition, while three others will represent Angola, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Steve Tigg, Head Performance Swim Coach at the University, will also travel with British Swimming to the meet, held in Fukuoka between 14 and 30 July. The British Swimming team are flying out to their holding camp today [11 July], with the African swimmers due to follow in the coming days.

It comes as Stirling – Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence – further enhances its world-class training environment, with the installation of a state-of-the-art performance analysis system. Powered by artificial intelligence, the bespoke SwimTrack system bolsters the existing facilities at the National Swimming Academy and will help swimmers improve technique and timings.

Watch: University of Stirling swimmers prepare for World Championships.

The swimming events at the World Aquatics Championships will run from 23 to 30 July. Stirling swimmers Duncan Scott, Katie Shanahan, Lucy Hope, Keanna MacInnes and Jack McMillan are all part of the 29-strong British team heading to Fukuoka, while Salvador Gordo will swim for Angola, Swaleh Talib for Kenya, and Paige Van Der Westhuizen for Zimbabwe.

Duncan Scott, 26, said: “The World Championships mean a lot to me. It’s one of the biggest events in our sport and I’ve plenty of good memories in Japan; I’m really looking forward to heading out there.

“I’m kicking off with relays and I’m part of some amazing relay teams with the 4x200m freestyle winning in Tokyo [2020 Olympics] and we’ve had some good World Championships successes in that relay too. I guess, we are there to win. And then we have the 4x100m freestyle; I wouldn’t say that we’ve properly tested that at a world level yet, but we have got a great team.

“For my individual event, the 200m individual medley, it is going to be a real fight because there’s plenty of talent in there: World Championship medallists from last year, Olympic medallists as well. If I can better my time that I did in April, then that will give me a great chance.”

Four swimmers plus Steve Tigg pictured before flying to Japan with British Swimming. British swimmers (L-R) Duncan Scott, Lucy Hope, Katie Shanahan and Keanna MacInnes pictured with Head Performance Swim Coach Steven Tigg (centre).

Katie Shanahan, 19, said: “I’m so excited to be selected for my first World Championships. Watching it the past few years, and seeing everyone racing, it looks so much fun.

“A lot of preparation goes into training for a competition like this. The facilities here are absolutely amazing – we’ve just had the new camera system installed; it’s brilliant, so high-tech. To have this facility available every day, to use it whenever you want, is so good. Not many programmes in the UK have this, so we are really grateful.”

Salvador Gordo, 20, said: “To represent my country in any competition is an honour. To do it again, at a World Championships, is an even greater honour and I’m very excited to swim fast alongside some very fast people. I just want to set some good times, hopefully get a personal best, which will help me set off on my path to qualifying for the next Olympics.”

Reflecting on the support he has received at Stirling, he added: “The high-performance programme has helped me achieve my goals in many ways; I’ve learned how to be a better teammate, a better leader, and, overall, a better person.”

Seven swimmers from the University of Stirling pictured before heading off to Japan for the World Championships. Four countries will be represented at the World Championships: Britain, Angola, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Paige Van Der Westhuizen, 20, said: “It is a big honour to represent Zimbabwe at the World Championships. It’s quite an achievement and I’m very happy about it. I’m really hoping to get some personal bests and some fast times in Japan, and hopefully build towards the Olympics next year. I’m excited and ready to race.”

Steven Tigg, Head Performance Coach at the University of Stirling, said: “It’s always a real honour to be called up to coach internationally. I am fortunate that this is my fourth World Championships; that’s where you want to ply your trade – against the world’s best athletes and their coaches.”

David Bond, Head of Performance Sport at the University of Stirling, said: “To have so many athletes in Japan is testament to the hard work of the coaches and support staff, and also the fantastic environment we have here at the University of Stirling, which really is conducive to high performance sport.

“We’re extremely proud and really excited to see our swimmers compete out there.”

Olly Logan, of British Swimming, with SwimTrack technology. Olly Logan, of British Swimming, is working with Stirling's athletes using the new SwimTrack technology.

SwimTrack is a bespoke 10-camera system, powered by artificial intelligence. With four cameras located underwater, four in the roof and one at each end of the pool, the technology is synchronised to provide automated tracking and multiple angles of the high-performance swimmers.

Delivering detail that would otherwise not be available to the naked eye, the system enables real-time analysis of swimmers’ biomechanics and provides high-definition images and data to the athletes and coaches via a large poolside monitor. Importantly, the system can help swimmers’ make marginal gains that could be the difference between winning and losing at the highest level of the sport.

Olly Logan, Head of Innovation, Biomechanics and Performance Analysis at British Swimming, is supporting the introduction of the new technology. He said: “We can go into the fine details of technique, to compare and contrast, and also assess the biomechanics, drag and propulsion – helping to optimise the high-performance swimmers to get the best out of themselves.”

Tigg added: “We’re really excited by SwimTrack. For future generations of swimmers, it will be really valuable in terms of performance analysis and research.”

Funded by the University of Stirling and British Swimming, the technology was developed and installed by Sheffield Hallam University and the UK Sports Institute.

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