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Countdown to 2012 in Dorset

You are in: Dorset > Places > Countdown to 2012 in Dorset > Olympic hope for Otters

Naomi Vides and Tony Watson

Naomi Vides and Tony Watson

Olympic hope for Otters

Two swimmers at one of Dorset's most successful swimming clubs have been selected to be a part of Britain's 2012 Targeted Training Squad, Blast reporter James Tiller went to Ferndown Otters to find out more.

It takes a lot of dedication to be a swimmer - early morning training sessions, exhausting amounts of pool time and lots of travelling to galas and meets across the country.  But it can be also a very rewarding sport to be a part of.

In 2000 Dorset swimmer and Ferndown Otter Karen Legg represented Great Britain at the Sydney Olympics and now seven years later a pair of swimmers from the club has been selected to be a part of the London 2012 Targeted Training Squad.

Breaststrokers Fran Hughes and Naomi Vides were named among the 115 swimmers aged between 12 and 17 selected by British Swimming to be part of the programme in July.

It is designed to give the swimmers "unparalleled support in terms of coaching, sport science and competitive opportunities" in the hope that by the summer of the London Olympics they will be reaching their peak performances.

Tony Watson, Heah coach Ferndown Otters

Ferndown Otters head coach Tony Watson


Ferndown head coach Tony Watson believes the scheme provides a great opportunity for his two swimmers: "I see it as being a great boost to be named in that squad.

The swimmers selected are still very young and five years is a long time, but what is great about the programme is that people can be added to it, which gives people who may be swimming alongside Fran and Naomi at the training sessions here an incentive for something they may want to break into."

Naomi, 13, is excited about linking up with the squad: "There is always so much you can improve on in swimming and other coaches may help you learn more things about your stroke.

With the 2012 thing it really shows you what you need to be able to do to swim in the Olympics, which I really want to do one day."

Olympic dream

Tony Watson was at Otters and coached Karen Legg when she went to the Olympics. So he certainly knows what it takes to make it there:

Naomi Vides - Ferndown Otters

Naomi Vides - Ferndown Otters

He says, "It is not a four year cycle.  It is probably something that takes 8 to 10 years to go from swim programmes to become a regional and eventually national swimmer and even then it is still very tough to make an international team.

"It takes a lot of support from people around you, especially from the swimming club and from your family. It is a big team effort and if you can get all those things in place then you will succeed."

Naomi joined Otters two years ago after moving from Bermuda. "I really like the club here and I get on really well with Fran. She is a little quicker than me so it is nice to train with her."

At the start of August Naomi returned home as national champion in her age group for the second year running - winning both the 100m and 200m breaststroke, and also became the first British 12-year old to win the 100m in a time of under 1min 14seconds.

Ferndown Otters in action

Ferndown Otters in action

Her time would have also have won her the age group above.

More success?

It is not just the girls that are doing well. Tony believes that it will not be too long until some of the boys follow Fran and Naomi into the development squad: "We have got several people in this area such as Chris Campbell, Dominic McDonald and Craig Freeman all of who I believe should at some point be added to the programme.

As we know, girls develop and reach maturation earlier than the boys, they are all about the same age but there is still a little way to go."

Tony also believes that there are exciting time ahead for swimmers and swimming in Dorset: "Swimming here is really developing well. There is a great amount of competition between clubs involved.

In the west of the county South Dorset are doing a good job at their end of the county and we also have two clubs like ourselves, and Bournemouth, that are very competitive too.

"We feed off of the successes of each other and that helps us drive and motivate our swimmers."


"I am extremely proud of the structure and programme we have here at Otters. We have a great team ethos and the effort put in by the parents and my support coaches Emma Hirst and Mark Taylor is something we take a huge amount of pride from" says Tony.

With the success Dorset had at the nationals this year where swimmers from the region took home record numbers of medals – we could have Olympic stars of the future on our doorstep.

last updated: 17/04/2008 at 13:35
created: 03/09/2007

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