Doha Worlds: Best GB swimming team for 30 years - Mark Foster

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
Great season for British swimmers

Great Britain has its best group of swimmers for 30 years, according to six-time world champion Mark Foster.

An 11-strong GB team will be in action at the World Short Course Championshipsexternal-link in Doha from Wednesday to Sunday.

Commonwealth and European Champions Jazz Carlin, Fran Halsall and Adam Peaty are competing, along with defending champion Hannah Miley.

"It's the best team I've seen in the last 30 years since I've been involved," Foster, 44, told BBC Sport.

Swimming championships explained
'Long-course' championships - swum in 50m pools - are traditionally the blue riband events
However, 'short course' championships - swum in 25m pools have been growing in popularity

Britain only won three medals in the pool during the London Olympics in 2012, but there are signs of a revival.

"I've never seen it looking so healthy at the top end, purely going on times and performances this season," said Foster.

"It is there for everyone to see - there seems to be a belief running across the team. Without going crazy, I could see us winning five or six medals in the pool at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"There are better procedures in place to catch the talent, I think the coaches have got a lot better. We've now got coaches that look after four or five world-class individuals."

British Swimming suffered a 14.9% - or £4m - funding cut after missing their London 2012 medal target of five to seven medals.

British swimming coach James Gibson
"I think we need to put things [recent results] into context. Twelve months ago we came out of the world championships with just one medal and we were considered an awful team, now people are saying we're a great team.
"I think we're a very good team but we've done the easy part which is improving from where we were, this is now the real test and no-one can rest on their laurels because ultimately the Olympics are on a completely different level to the Commonwealths and Europeans."

Head coach Bill Furniss has overseen a drastic cut in the number of funded swimmers and has insisted on more regular competition.

Peaty, 19, the world 50m breaststroke record holder, said: "I don't go into any race looking for anything other than a gold and don't know why anyone else would look for silver, bronze or anything else. No-one is safe on the team because there are so many people pushing each other."

Halsall, 24, who won gold in both the 50m freestyle and butterfly at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, said: "It's been a really great year.

"It's so pleasing to see that I'm finally coming out with the results and times that I feel I've been capable of for a long time now.

"The team is in a great place at the moment and everyone is there for one another. There are so many youngsters who have come through who have a great attitude - they're really mature and that certainly helps - even if it makes me feel a bit old now."

Additional reporting by Nick Hope

Great Britain team

Men: Adam Barrett (Loughborough), James Guy (Millfield), Adam Peaty (City of Derby), Ben Proud (Plymouth Leander), Chris Walker-Hebborn (Bath).

Women: Jazz Carlin (Swansea), Georgia Davies (Loughborough), Fran Halsall (Loughborough), Hannah Miley (Garioch), Siobhan Marie O'Connor (Bath), Sophie Taylor (London)

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