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No better place to swim than in Bath

By Cecily Liu (China Daily)

09:01, July 23, 2012

English city is hosting 24 contented members of China's swimming team

After completing an intensive three-hour training session, Chinese swimmer Jiao Liuyang dried herself before completing some stretching exercises. Looking exceedingly lively, she then told reporters, "I feel very good in Bath, I'm not really nervous."

Jiao, who won a silver medal in the 200m butterfly at the Beijing Games in 2008 and gold at the 2011 World Championships, is in her third and final week of pre-Olympic training in the British city, which is helping her to acclimate to local conditions.

Thanks to the university's world-class swimming pool (where the British squad is permanently based) and food carefully prepared by two Chinese chefs, Jiao has found all her expectations for pre-Olympic training have been met.

Asked if she wanted to win a gold medal this time around, Jiao answered confidently, "of course I want to", adding her performance would come down to the execution of her technique.

"Those who are in the top eight (finalists) differ very little in ability, so I feel the reason for winning is getting the details right and the reason for losing is getting the details wrong," she said.

A total of 24 Chinese swimmers are training in Bath, including Jiao and Sun Yang, who smashed Australian Grant Hackett's 10-year-old men's 1,500m freestyle world record with a time of 14 min 34.14 sec last year.

Another group of 23 swimmers is training in Leeds. A third batch, which includes Beijing Olympic gold medalist Liu Zige, will complete pre-Olympic training in Beijing. All three groups will arrive at the Olympic Village on July 23.

Lu Yifan, who leads the swimming team in Bath, said he is confident the Chinese swimmers will make major breakthroughs at the Olympics.

"Our confidence comes from our strength. We aim for new breakthroughs at every Olympics, but especially this year because many of our athletes are at the peak of their athletic careers," Lu said.

He believes Sun could win gold in the men's 1,500m freestyle, and do "very well" in the men's 200m and 400m freestyle.

In Beijing, the Chinese swimming team finished with one gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

The deal between China's swimming team and Bath University was signed at the end of February when six Chinese coaches and officials visited the city, said the university's director of sport Stephen Baddeley.

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