The 24 strong English Schools swimming team to feature at the 2013 ISF World Schools Games in Brasilia was announced this week – and no less than a third of the team comes from the Plymouth Leander stable. With eight of the selected athletes coming from the Plymouth programme, it is also no surprise to see that five of these come from the world-renowned partnership with Plymouth College.
The English team will be led by Leander Head Coach and Director of Swimming at Plymouth College Jon Rudd who has been named as Head Coach for the trip to the 15th ISF Gymnasiade at the end of November. Of the eight athletes selected – Ruta Meilutyte, Hazal Sarikaya, Grace Vertigans, Megan Bowen, Alicia Parsons, Jack Smith, Harry Ackland and Jack Burton, Plymouth will add a multitude of Olympians, international and national medallists and national record holders to the English School’s cause. An interesting feature is that this is not an England team – but a team of those who attend an English School; this makes Olympic Champion Meilutyte (Lithuania) and Olympian Sarikaya (Turkey) eligible for selection.
The English team will be driven in the knowledge that they have an Olympic Champion in their midst, as the Plymouth College swimming sensation will feature in the 50m, 100m and 200m Breaststroke alongside the 50m and 100m Freestyle. Fellow Olympian Hazal Sarikaya, also of Plymouth College, will feature strongly in the 50m, 100m and 200m Backstroke, whilst European Junior medallist Grace Vertigans (Plymouth College) will take on the 50m and 100m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke and 100m Backstroke, as well as the 50m and 100m Butterfly.
Two British record holders who will feature for Great Britain in this summer’s European Junior Championships are Plymouth College’s Harry Ackland and Jack Smith and the boys also find themselves selected for this event in Brazil. Ackland will take on the 50m, 100m and 200m Breaststroke, whilst Smith will feature in the 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m Freestyle. Making their international debuts will be British National Age Group Champion Megan Bowen (Ivybridge Community College) in the 200m and 400m Freestyle, Jack Burton (Plymouth College) in the 50m and 200m Breaststroke and Alicia Parsons (Devonport High School for Girls) in the 200m Breaststroke.
Jon Rudd said of leading the team into Brazil, “This is a fantastic opportunity for these athletes to race at international level in the country where they aspire to race in the next Olympic Games. I am so proud from both a Plymouth Leander and Plymouth College perspective to have so many of my own athletes on the team and they bring with them a blend of both experience and bubbly naivety – both of which can be major strengths in international competition. It is also goes without saying that I feel very privileged to be selected as the Head Coach for this most prestigious event.“