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Down Under gets a bit closer

Updated: 2012-12-07 07:43
By Sun Xiaochen ( China Daily)

 Down Under gets a bit closer

The TSLC aquatic academy consists of an Olympic standard 50-meter, eight-lane outdoor swimming pool, a 25-meter lap pool, an electronic timing system and an underwater viewing gallery for video analysis. The academy offers a variety of programs for people of all ages and levels, as well as customized coaching from a team of instructors. Provided to China Daily

One of Australia's best coaches will lead a camp for top Chinese swimmers in Thailand facility

Overseas training programs always seem a little better when they are close to home.

Training in Australia has been a great benefit to Chinese swimmers in recent years, but the long trip Down Under remains a headache.

Now, the country's elite swimmers won't need to go quite so far for the Aussies' expertise as they have found a much closer base in Phuket, Thailand.

Boasting Olympic-standard facilities, the Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club, which is located near Phuket International Airport, signed a $65,200 deal with China's Liaoning provincial swimming squad, which will send its Olympians to train in TSLC's aquatic academy under one of the world's best coaches.

A team of 23 Chinese athletes and coaches will leave for Thanyapura on Jan 27 for a six-week camp with legendary coach Stephan Widmer - the man behind Australian Olympic gold medalists Leisel Jones, Kylie Palmer, Libby Trickett and Jessicah Schipper and London Games silver medalist Christian Sprenger.

Widmer recently left his post as head coach of the Queensland State Swimming Center to spend a year with his family in his native Switzerland.

He will share his expertise and methods with the Liaoning team at TSLC's state-of-the-art swimming center. Sixty sessions are scheduled during the high-performance training camp at Thanyapura.

Among those in his charge are London Olympians Wang Haibing - who just missed out on a bronze medal after China finished fourth in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay - and Wang Shijia, who finished sixth in the female 4x200m free relay.

Down Under gets a bit closer

Men's national breaststroke specialist Li Xiayan and backstroke swimmer Cheng Feiyi, who placed eighth in the 100m in London, will also join the camp.

"Thanyapura is an amazing training destination with cutting-edge facilities and services to assist us in optimizing our training performance," said Yuan Yue, deputy director and head coach of the Liaoning Swimming Administrative Center.

"We never thought we would find a full-scale, world-class sporting facility like this on a small island like Phuket. More importantly, the climate and weather conditions in Phuket are almost the same as what we have been used to in Australia. And it's much more convenient to train here than traveling to the other hemisphere of the world."

Thanyapura president Robert Hauck said he was excited about the deal because it was a milestone on the club's journey to becoming one of Asia's most popular training facilities for elite teams from around the world in various sports.

"This is a vital part of the vision becoming a reality," Hauck said. "It was always envisioned that Thanyapura would become a training retreat or even a base for elite sports teams from all over the world.

"The Liaoning team is a powerhouse in China and looks set to become an even more formidable force after teaming with a coach like Stephan Widmer. So we are delighted to welcome the team here and can't wait to see them getting down to some hard work in the pool and having some fun exploring our campus, and the rest of Phuket too."

Simon Jones, director of Thanyapura Aquatics, hailed Widmer as "one of the world's best swimming coaches".

"It's very exciting for our Thanyapura-based swimmers, and other athletes, to see such an elite force in world swimming in their midst," Jones said.

"This visit will also be important in terms of word of mouth in the international swimming community and I'm confident the Chinese swimmers will only have good things to say about Thanyapura when they are attending the world's top competitions and discussing training methods and facilities."

The Aquatics Academy is the crown jewel of the TSLC. It includes a 50m Olympic-standard outdoor pool with electronic timing system, coaches' observation window and a 600-seat shaded grandstand, plus an ozone filtration system and anti-turbulence lane ropes. There is also an adjacent 25m outdoor pool with its own coaching platform.


(China Daily 12/07/2012 page23)

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