SCOTLAND will continue to produce world-class swimmers despite the imminent closure of the ‘Intensive Training Centre’ in Stirling set up by British Swimming in 2008, leading figures in the sport insisted yesterday.
Scotland has proportionately been the strongest performer of the home nations since the 2006 Commonwealth Games, with Hannah Miley and Robbie Renwick both reaching successive Olympic finals and Michael Jamieson producing the best result by a home swimmer at London 2012, a silver medal in the 200 metres breaststroke.
Team GB’s failure to deliver on a target of five medals at last summer’s Games has led to a cut in UK Sport funding and this has contributed to the closure of ITCs at Stockport, earlier this year, and now Stirling and Swansea from 31 December. Only the ITCs at Loughborough and Bath, where Jamieson trains, will continue to operate from next year.
However, double Commonwealth champion David Carry and Scottish Swimming chief executive Forbes Dunlop claimed emphatically that channelling too much energy into Stirling, sometimes to the detriment of elite performance centres in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, was holding the sport in Scotland back, and welcomed yesterday’s announcement.
“This is not bad news at all,” said Dunlop, who confirmed that no jobs would be lost at Stirling. “We’ve got a good deal with British Swimming and the investment we are getting will support all four of our main performance centres.
“This ITC label really was just that: a label.” Former Stockport ITC swimmer Carry, now a board member at Scottish Swimming, added: “In terms of Stirling ITC, it may well be closing as an ITC but its function will be exactly the same.
“Robbie Renwick has recently been funded to train in America under Bob Bowman, who trains the No 1 and No 2 freestylers in the world. The changes in the funding system are allowing fantastic opportunities like that to happen, whereas under the previous system that money wouldn’t have been available.”