Leeds swim coaching is cut back EXCLUSIVE

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A swimming training scheme run by Leeds City Council has cut the number of coaches it employs in a major shake-up of the programme.

Sports chiefs hope a raft of changes will help to improve the scheme – established to produce elite performers – which they say has not been working when compared to the city’s success in diving.

Swimming was one of the few sports that failed to hit its medal target at the London Olympics.

Following a council review of its programme, the number of coaching posts has been reduced from 16 to 14 and 
the number of swimmers taking part is now 251, down from 289.

The old system had six tiers of squads which delivered a total of 67 hours of training time in the pool each week.

The new structure has five tiers providing 57 hours in what the council says is a more efficient way, as it removes some pool time which was 
previously not being fully used.

This pool time will now be made available for increased public use.

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A council spokesman said: “In recent months, a thorough review of the council’s swimming training scheme has been carried out looking at ways to make it more efficient and with a clear aim of producing a more productive performance environment.

“As a result of the review, a new system has been put in place which is focused on better use of the available pool time and training to bring about improved performances at all levels of the scheme, a priority which is likely to be echoed at a national level following the relatively disappointing performance of the Team GB swimming squad at the London 2012 Games.

“A minority of swimmers have been affected by these changes, but the old system was not working so with this change in structure and approach, we are confident swimming will in years to come begin to deliver improved performances to match those of the Leeds Diving Scheme, which is the leading programme of its type in the country and led to five City of Leeds divers competing in the 12-strong Team GB squad in London.”

None of the divers from the City of Leeds team won medals at the Olympics, but the likes of Sarah Barrow, Alicia Blagg, Rebecca Gallantree, Jack Laugher and Hannah Starling have been labelled as ones to watch in the future.

The spokesman said any savings from the slimmed down structure of the swimming training scheme would be reinvested in the programme.

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