Glasgow 2014: Plymouth Leander provides swimmers for five teams

By Brent PilnickBBC Sport
Plymouth Leander's Commonwealth Games swimmers

Kenya, Cayman Islands, England, Uganda, and the Isle of Man.

They are not the destinations in the latest Michael Palin travel series, but the countries to be represented by swimmers from one club at this summer's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Plymouth Leander have established a worldwide reputation in the past few years.

The club works with Plymouth College, the boarding school that Olympic medallists Tom Daley and Ruta Meilutyte attended, to nurture some of the best talents from around the globe.

Head coach John Rudd, who will assume a similar role with England's swimming team, will also be keeping a close eye on how his other charges fare at the Games.

"I'm hopeful our five go there and swim with honour and pride because they know Plymouth's a big part of their reason in going and we'll see what the medal table says afterwards," says Rudd, who guided

As well as England's Ben Proud, who recently broke the British 50m freestyle record, the club will also be represented by Cayman Islands' 1500m swimmer Geoffrey Butler, the Isle of Man's Charlotte Atkinson in butterfly, Ugandan Olympic swimmer Jamila Lunkuse and Kenyan champion Hamdan Bayusuf, who is a student at Plymouth University.

"We didn't know he was coming, he just kind of announced himself 'I'm in Plymouth, I've come to train with you, I'm at the university'," said Rudd.

"He'd swum at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona and, like Jamila, he's one of the leading lights in his country.

"But they'll both be the first to realise that outside of South Africa, swimming isn't a renowned sport in the other African nations, so when it comes to medal prospects and making finals they're going to have their work cut out."

While the medal prospects for Lunkuse and Bayusuf may not be that good, the same cannot be said for Rudd's two swimmers from the British Isles.

Proud is ranked third in the Commonwealth in 50m freestyle and second in the 50m butterfly, and Rudd believes his top sprinter is the club's best bet for a medal.

"On the day he could beat everybody else, but on the day there's several that could beat him," he said.

"He's in very good form at the moment, he unexpectedly broke the British record in the 50m freestyle, so he's in good shape, we've just got to get him more stronger and powerful."

The Isle of Man's Atkinson could be an outside bet for a podium place, according to Rudd.

Isle of Man's Atkinson prepares for Glasgow 2014

"She's excellent, she's only 17, she swam a 100m butterfly time earlier this year that ranked her seventh in the word.

"She's still in the top 10 in the world, so when it comes to the Commonwealth rankings, it's certainly in the top five.

"But Australia are very strong in her event, so not only will the challenge come from England, but from Australia, Canada and South Africa."

Atkinson holds more than 50 records for her island and says the move to be part of Rudd's elite training squad has propelled her career.

"Since I've come to Plymouth I've got massive personal bests, I've taken over five seconds off my 100m fly.

"Last year I didn't even qualify for the British Championships and this year I made the finals," she said.

"My times are getting faster, my technique is better so I'm improving overall.

"It would mean a lot to the Isle of Man as we're a smaller team compared to the likes of the England team, so it'd be great to do well and get the Isle of Man on the map.

"To final at the Commonwealths would be amazing, but I want to swim good times and get a personal best."

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