SIX swimmers and divers who competed for Scotland at Glasgow 2014 head out to Australia today, along with six others, for a high-performance training camp that will help them start 2015 with a bang.
The group flies from Glasgow to Perth this afternoon and will be in the West Australian city until 18 January.
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The trip will give the athletes some much-needed warm-weather training and valuable time with coaches as they get prepared to set their goals for the next 12 months and beyond.
Stirling University’s Lewis Smith, Warrender’s Craig McNally, Perth City’s Stephen Milne and Glasgow University’s Camilla Hattersley all competed in swimming events for Scotland at Glasgow 2014 and will be on the plane today.
Edinburgh Diving Club divers James Heatly and Grace Reid also turned out at Glasgow 2014 and they too make the trip.
The other swimmers heading down under are Kirsty Simpson, Megan Briggs and Kathleen Dawson, while diver Gemma McArthur will also join the group.
The group is completed by open water swimmers Danielle Huskisson and Keri-Anne Payne, who won the silver medal in the 10k marathon swim at the Beijing Olympics and has since relocated to Edinburgh.
The eight-strong support team also making the trip is headed up by national coach Alan Lynn and he believes it will be a worthwhile exercise.
He said: “It is always great to be able to start a new year with some warm-weather training and this group of athletes will really be able to refocus their goals whilst we are out there. Of course, the big events on the horizon are the Olympics in Rio in 2016 and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018, but there are plenty of things for these guys to be aiming for before then.
“It is also great that someone of Keri-Anne Payne’s experience is coming with us on the trip and there is no doubt that the others will enjoy working with her and learning from her.
“For the coaches and other support staff, too, this will be a worthwhile experience because they too can share ideas and get some quality time to work with the athletes.”
The other support staff making the trip are coaches Ann Dickson, Laurel Bailey and Jenny Leeming, along with team manager Lindsay Lewis, physiotherapist Louise Imrie, strength and conditioning coach Neil Donald and physiologist Katie McGibbon.
Lynn became head coach of Scottish Swimming back in October, bringing a wealth of experience to the role, especially in terms of the development of coaches.
During his successful academic career, Lynn established two MSc programmes at Stirling University, including the UK’s first online Masters course for performance coaches.
Scotland, led by victories for Hannah Miley, Ross Murdoch and Dan Wallace, had a good Glasgow 2014 in the pool and Lynn is sure the success can continue.
“Scottish swimming is on a real high after another successful Commonwealth Games. We have some established performers and some outstanding potential to look out for in the next few years. I aim to support the excellent performance environments already in place and challenge our swimmers and coaches to make the gains necessary for even greater success,” he stated.
“So far, I have really enjoyed the role and it has been great to see so many coaches and swimmers coming together of late to share ideas and, in turn, make the sport in this country stronger.”
The Australia camp comes just days after the Scottish youth development squad spent time together over the festive period. A total of 40 of the best 13, 14 and 15-year-olds were in Stirling between 26-30 December to, like the senior athletes, set their targets for 2015 and get some time with a variety of coaches from the national set-up.
It was very much a time to work on technical things rather than being coached new things and Lynn was impressed with what he saw from the young talents from up and down the country.
“This camp has been run for many years around this time and has always proved to be a great success,” he added.
“As all of the youngsters have school commitments and miles to travel, this is the best time of year to hold it and we believe they and the coaches will have taken a lot from it.”
High-performance squad: Kirsty Simpson, Lewis Smith, Danielle Huskisson, Keri-Anne Payne, Craig McNally, Megan Briggs, Kathleen Dawson, Stephen Milne, Camilla Hattersley, Grace Reid, James Heatly, Gemma McArthur.
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