Swimming: City of Leeds swim stars set sights on Rio Games

City of Leeds Swimming Club's ''Age Group winning team at the National Championships.
City of Leeds Swimming Club's ''Age Group winning team at the National Championships.
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HEAD coach Richard Denigan has hailed the City of Leeds Swimming Club’s latest campaign as their most successful in recent history.

The year was so impressive that Denigan himself picked up a coaching excellence award.

But Denigan says his award was every bit a team effort and now the only way is up with November’s junior national championships and a possible sixth successive title on the agenda. The City of Leeds Swimming Club made international headlines in July when Sophie Taylor bagged Commonwealth gold.

Taylor is now moving on to pastures new in London but national champions Leeds have a raft of new emerging talent headed by Georgia Coates and Amelia Clynes. Coates won a silver and bronze at the European Junior Championships and has now been selected to go to Tokyo with GB Swimming on a Japanese National camp.

Clynes also won a sliver and bronze at the European Juniors and has been selected by GB Swimming to attend a FINA youth programme that sees her being part of the World Short Course Championships in Doha. With the Leeds club having broken 17 national records between senior and junior events, Denigan is naturally beaming about what might lie in store in 2015 and beyond.

“This season has been one of our most successful seasons for many years,” said Denigan.

“Great Britain has taken teams to the European Junior Championships, the Mare Nostrum and the European Championships, and as well as the England Commonwealth Games team, Leeds has had a representative on each team, contributing to medals in each competition. Our programme has produced its first senior international medallists since 2002 through Sophie Taylor and on an international junior level this is our most successful European Junior Championships ever. Also, domestically, we have started to see Leeds swimmers make senior finals at the British Championships and also make the podium.”

After next month’s National Junior League final in Corby, all roads point towards the World Championship Trials in London in April 2015. The event is a qualification event for World Senior and Junior Championships, European Youth Games and the European Youth Olympics. The Leeds team will be taken by an award-winning coach but Denigan will not take the glory for his coaching excellence award – awarded to him for Taylor’s Commonwealth gold at the British Swimming Coaches Association awards at the Leeds Hilton in September.

The club’s age group team and girls’ team both took gold at this year’s nationals and Denigan said of his award: “I was very proud because all the team have put a lot of work in to getting a great result. It wasn’t just for me, it was for Leeds City Council and my colleagues who support me and the City of Leeds Swimming Club. It epitomised all our efforts.”

Those efforts will now be focused towards 2015 and beyond, and while Leeds has become more famed for huge diving success lately, Denigan is proud that his club are again helping the city make a splash in the pool. Denigan enthused: “Staff and swimmers are working to develop great people and athletes that can go into the world highly skilled and, hopefully, on the way our success becomes greater. I want to live up to the legacy Terry Denison left the programme that he worked so hard to build.

“The 2016 Rio Olympics would be the goal – it may come too early for us but you never know what can happen!”

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