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British Swimming team culture has been nurtured over many years, says CEO

·3-min read

The British Swimming team culture in evidence after an historic Olympic one-two has been nurtured over many years, according to chief executive Jack Buckner.

Tom Dean pipped favourite Duncan Scott to gold in the 200 metres freestyle by 0.04 seconds but the Scot was quick to embrace and congratulate his team-mate.

The pair are set to team up in the relay final for the same event after Dean helped Great Britain qualify for the final with the fastest time without the rested Scott.

And Buckner believes the collective effort has been crucial to achieving individual success as well.

“It’s massive – 1908 was the last time we got a one-two in the swimming pool,” he told the PA news agency.

“And obviously we had Adam on Monday, and Adam Peaty is iconic, but it just shows you we are more than just Adam and there’s more coming.

“We have a thing, it’s one team and winning well. We have done that the last couple of days and we want to keep on doing that.

“We have worked really hard and done a lot of quite detailed work around the whole culture of the sport and how we want to celebrate.

“We have done it with the coaches as well and the coaches are quite tight. One of the best things I have seen is that, at the end of most days’ competition, you see all the coaches in the team and they are helping each other improve and they are challenging each other.

“We have got an ability in this group to have really open, challenging conversations, in a way that builds trust. That has taken time but is really impactful when you see it and leads to moments that we saw earlier that are really sincere.”

Dean’s success came six months after a serious bout of Covid-19 which cost him seven weeks of training and followed a previous coronavirus infection months earlier.

“Tom’s story is remarkable but I think he’d say to you what I am saying to you – that there are a lot of remarkable stories,” Buckner said.

Tom Dean and Duncan Scott
Great Britain’s Tom Dean, right, and Duncan Scott (Joe Giddens/PA)

“This last couple of years, Tom has been one of a number of our team who have had to fight through just so much challenge. That challenge has come through issues with Covid, training, events, facility closure.

“We tried to support Tom in Bath just as we tried to support everyone in Stirling and Loughborough as well. Because we are so tight, that support is there all the time. We help each other out.

“Tom has had a really tough time but we have got him through it and we will do that with any of our swimmers.”

Buckner hopes the Tokyo success can inspire children to take up the sport.

Jack Buckner
British Swimming CEO Jack Buckner (Jacob King/PA)

“Every Olympian’s journey begins at a local swimming club,” he said from Citadel Leisure Centre in Ayr, where Scott first began swimming lessons.

“That’s where the spark is lit. The great thing about Olympians is they are such heroes but also carry themselves with a humility that is inspirational.”

Scott’s first coach, Mike Boles, said of the silver medallist: “He was eight or nine and he had been swimming with his dad at Troon just for fun and joined the swimming team.

“He always had a smile on his face and anything you asked him to do, he would do it. I don’t remember him ever complaining.

“You could see from the very start that he wanted to race. Any stroke you asked him to do, he would race it to his very best.”

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