sport

Stockport loses out after cuts

British Swimming has announced it will continue to fund four of the existing five Intensive Training Centres with Stockport missing out.

The five centres in Bath, Loughborough, Stirling, Swansea and Stockport were set up after the 2008 Olympics and offered swimmers land and pool training facilities as well as sports science and medicine support in a single location.

However, a below-par performance at the London Olympics led to a 3.7million reduction in funding for the build-up to the Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

After an assessment on a host of criteria including past performances and cost, it was decided that Stockport would no longer operate as an ITC but instead, British Swimming plans to provide support to the already existing Stockport Metro club.

As yet the futures of coach Sean Kelly and the two full-time swimmers - three-time Commonwealth champion James Goddard and Russell Smith - as well as guest athletes Lauren Quigley, a very highly-rated young backstroker, and Harry Needs - are unclear.

Until last autumn, Stockport was home to world open water champion Keri-anne Payne and her husband, Olympic finalist David Carry, before they headed to Edinburgh.

British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes said: "Our Olympic performance debrief, under the guidance of Craig Hunter and in conjunction with Bob Bowman, gave a clear indication that the system under-pinning swimming is world class and the ITCs at the heart of that system are clearly important.

"However, with significant budget cuts it has been necessary to look across the sport at savings and, while we've achieved considerable cost reductions in a number of areas already, it was inevitable that we should have to focus our more limited resources and operate with fewer ITCs.

"It is with great reluctance that the British Swimming board, after a careful review of all five ITCs, has decided not to renew the contract with Stockport.

"We will now be looking at innovative ways in which we can support Stockport as a club going forward to build on the tremendous tradition that the club has of producing world-class athletes."