Sharron Davies: “We fund our athletes fantastically now. The lottery makes a massive difference.”
Sharron Davies believes the future of British swimming is in healthy shape ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Great Britain won only three medals in the pool at the London 2012 Games – three down on Beijing four years earlier – but Davies told Sportswomen on Sky Sports News that swimmers have never been better supported.
“Financially we have done very well,” she said. “We have been extremely well supported in swimming. The three medals we lost in London were in open swimming so we still had three medals in the competitive pool.
“Of course they are not the three gold that Rebecca Adlington had that we all remember from Beijing. The shiny gold makes a massive difference.
“We fund our athletes fantastically now. The lottery makes a massive difference. It means that athletes can be full time. It means that they can compete on an equal platform with people abroad, particularly places like America and Australia where they look after their athletes so very well.
“There has to be a way of rewarding people and there has to be a way of diving up the money, so how else would you do it if it’s not based on success.
“Swimming is still a massive participation sport so we want to encourage people to swim and people do love it when it’s on the television. It has huge viewing figures when the Olympic Games come on, we all love to watch the swimmers.
One of the bright hopes of women’s swimming is 18-year-old Sky Scholar Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, who represented Team GB in the 100m breast stroke having failed to qualify for her favoured 200IM event after suffering from nerves and failing to produce her best.
“She tensed up, but that’s lesson learned and a box ticked. You don’t do that next time,” added Davies. “That’s what’s so very important and the great thing for her is that she’s got an Olympic Games under her belt at the age of 18.
“She has a fantastic rivalry with the young lady called Sophie Allen, who actually trains in Bath. Competition in training is a good thing. Aimee Willmott is another young lady to look out for, a 400 IM swimmer.
“She does my event. A lot of hard work involved but she’s putting in the work at the moment. They all had a good World Championships they didn’t bring any medals home but they made finals and got great experience.”