26 June 2011

Singapore as a swimming training base

Top swimmers to train in S'pore@straits times

A star-studded cast of the world's top swimmers, such as Olympic gold medallists Stephanie Rice and Alain Bernard, are scheduled to arrive in Singapore ahead of next month's World Swimming Championships in Shanghai.

Eighteen countries, including swimming powerhouse Australia, France, South Africa and Canada, will conduct their pre-competition training camps here to adapt to the regional climate and adjust to the time zone.

Spearheading the Australian squad who will be training at the Toa Payoh swimming complex is Rice. The 22-year-old holds the world record for the 400m individual medley and won three gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

She will be accompanied by breaststroke specialist Leisel Jones, who won the 100m in Beijing. There is also Alicia Coutts, who clocked the fastest 100m fly time in the world this season in 57.25sec. Coutts will likely compete against local swim queen Tao Li in Shanghai.

The Australians, who will arrive in the middle of next month, have the largest squad with about 45 athletes.

Another notable mention is Frenchman Bernard, 28, who was once the world's fastest man over the 50m and 100m freestyle.

Using Singapore as a training base is nothing new. Many countries had picked the Republic as a training and acclimatisation base ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, among them Canada, Japan and the United States.

An official who was involved in organising the Beijing training stint said: 'The United States' swimming camp in 2008 was very successful. I think that opened the way for more countries to come here.'

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