LONDON, England, July 18. MICHAEL Scott, British Swimming's national performance director, expects that the 2012 London Olympics will be the “the most competitive and fastest Olympic competition ever.”
Just a few major international competitions removed from the ban of the techsuit, Scott believes that plenty of top times are going to be posted during the Olympics this time around.
“In 2009, people felt that the world records (set at the 2009 world championships in Rome, the last before the ban) would be around for a long time,” Scott said. “The gaps have narrowed and I think we will see one of the most competitive Games ever because more countries are producing top calibre swimmers. They have funding systems to support world-class performance. I expect the most competitive and fastest Olympic competition ever.”
Scott is also looking for some big things from the hosts, especially with a large partisan crowd in a support role at the London Aquatic Centre.
“We have a home crowd behind us which will make a difference. We have the added advantage of having 17,000 people (in the Aquatics Centre), most of whom will be cheering for us,” Scott said. “To match Beijing, we will have to perform much better. All our indications are that we have more people in medal contention than ever before and we work on a conversion rate of 50-60% (of people in finals winning medals).
Scott broke down what it would take for Great Britain to have a standout meet.
“Twelve people made finals last year (at the 2011 world championships in Shanghai) and all those people have made good progress since Shanghai. We have a range of people in medal contention, some who have never been on the podium before,” Scott said. “Our swimmers have to treat every round of the competition as if it's a final. They have to convert as many performances as they can into season or lifetime bests, so we can collectively have a great meet. It's about progression. If we achieve that, then what the media is focused on, the tangibles like medals, will come.”
Scott also pinpointed future Olympic hosts, Brazil, as a country to keep an eye on heading into London.
“There are a number of countries on an upward curve. Brazil is a country to watch, particularly in men's swimming. They are the next (Olympic Games) hosts after London,” Scott said. “The French have a good nucleus of a team, both men and women. A lot of teams have one or two quality swimmers who are potential podium swimmers. The top countries have five, six or seven people they can rely on for medals – that's where we want to be in the future.”