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Now we can stop holding our collective breaths, the longest swimming programme in Olympic Games history has ended and there was drama and incident from the first event, the men's 400 metres Individual Medley, to the last the men's 10k Open Water race.

What has pleased me most is that people who wouldn't normally cross the road to watch a swimming event have become enthralled by something that captured my attention 15 years ago at the European Championships in Sheffield.

The talk in the BBC office was all about Phelps and Adlington, how to pronounce Cavic and how do they swim that fast over 10 kilometres?

Continue reading "Swimming success story"

Recent entries

The swimming at the Water Cube may have come to an end, but that doesn't mean the swimming programme is over in Beijing.

For the first time in the Olympic programme, Open Water will be featured, or Marathon swimming as it is being called by some.

In the world championships there are three disciplines for men and women, the 5k, 10k, and 25k races. The IOC has opted for the middle one which is good news for British competitors involved.

Continue reading "All set for Open Water"

Ok, I'll admit it, my crystal ball had clouded over when I predicted that Michael Phelps would not, could not, achieve eight gold medals in Beijing.

He had some scares along the way, notably the 4x100 metres freestyle relay, when he was indebted to Jason Lezak for keeping him on track, and to the timing device for putting Phelps ahead of Milorad Cavic in the 100m butterfly. But, however you dress it up, seven world records and one Olympic record just takes your breath away.

Continue reading "Phelps, Mellouli and the best swimmers in Europe"

It doesn't happen very often that Michael Phelps gets reduced to second place in the headlines, especially after equalling Mark Spitz's seven gold medals from Munich in 1972.

But Rebecca Adlington's gold medal performance in the 800m freestyle was certainly the most astonishing swim I have ever seen from a Briton, and, arguably one of the greatest swims of all time.

To break Janet Evans's 1989 world record by over two seconds was immense in itself, but the margin between the 19-year-old from Mansfield and the rest was nothing short of astonishing.

What's more it couldn't have happened to a more popular member of the GB team. This teenager has charisma, is delightfully free of clich├ęs and has a winning smile that lights up any sporting event.

Continue reading "A great day for swimming"


The two questions I have been asked most frequently during the run up to these Games are:

How many medals will the Great Britain swimming team get? And can America's Michael Phelps win all eight golds in the events he is competing in?

The answer to question one is, as all observant readers of my previous blogs will know, that we will get more finalists than before and take it from there.

Regarding the second query, Phelps is more than capable of bettering Mark Spitz's efforts at the 1972 Munich Games, but he will have to rely on US colleagues backing him up in the relays and not thwarting his efforts in the five individual events.

Continue reading "Can US swim star Phelps win eight medals?"

Last weekend, the Olympic swimming squad and those who have aspirations to be on the team in 2012 were put through their competitive paces.

In truth, four weeks out from the Games, lightning fast times weren't expected but it gave us a decent barometer on how Britain's medal prospects are looking.

After the competition, at the Liverpool Aquatics Centre, I'm firmly convinced that there will be more British finalists than we have seen for many years and that, with it's mix of youth and experience, this is the most cohesive squad that has represented GB in swimming at the Olympics in recent memory.

Continue reading "GB swimmers give cause for optimism"

Taylor and Waterfield were the Little and Large of diving

I have mixed feeling about the retirement of Leon Taylor from competitive diving.

That's me being very selfish, of course, as nothing would have given me greater pleasure that to see Leon and synchro partner Peter Waterfield go one better than they did in Athens four years ago and take gold in the platform event this time.

But I also know what a huge asset the 30-year-old will be alongside me in the commentary box.

Continue reading "Happy Retirement, Leon"

It has traditionally been the least glamorous event in the programme - from the layman's point of view at least - but the Olympic 1500m swimming final could turn out to be the most exciting of the lot.

In the past the masters of the 30-length discipline have been rather marginalised, with the exception of Australia where it is still the event in the pool.

TV companies like to cut to the chase, almost literally, and show the last 200 at best and shorter if they can get away with it. That shows scant regard for the sports' hardest-working competitors.

Continue reading "Beijing set for 15-minute feast"

There was plenty to reflect on and admire from the British Olympic Trials in Sheffield and the performances at the World Short Course Championships in Manchester.

British records, Commonwealth records, a few European ones sprinkled in for good measure, and the World Long Course record of Liam Tancock (pictured below) in the 50 metres backstroke.

Don't, however, get the impression that Britain has become a swimming superpower. There is still a long way to go before we can be bracketed alongside the USA and the Australians. Inexorable progress is being made on that front and, bit by bit, we are closing in on the top nations in Europe, which is a big step in itself.

Continue reading "Beijing the acid test for GB swimmers "

I'm BBC Radio's swimming commentator, and I also commentate on basketball and ice hockey. I am the BBC TV commentator on diving.

I was born just a few hundred yards away from Lord's Cricket Ground in the Autumn of 1959, which would explain why cricket was my first real love and I was a Middlesex junior member.

My first venture into radio was with Capital Radio's Hullabaloo programme when I was 15, and I did a weekly feature called 'Pop Spot', which was about music not lemonade, by the way.

On leaving school at 17, I wanted to get into radio but there were no real openings then, so I ventured into the music business - music being my other great passion.

My first job was a glamorous one. Printing jukebox labels - I could probably have told you the 'A' and 'B' sides from every top-20 hit in 1977, but fortunately I just remember the 'A' sides now!

BBC Radio Medway gave me my first opportunity in February 1983. On recommendation from Rod Lucas, Kevin Geary, then Sports producer at the station, allowed me to present Out and About, the sport and music programme, which I did for about five years.

Fast forwarding to 1997, after five years at BBC Radio Sheffield I joined the 5 Live sports team, and during the last 11 years I have covered two Olympics, two Winter Olympics and three Commonwealth Games, along with four world long course swimming championships.

Aside from the Olympics, both winter and summer, my favourite yearly event is Wimbledon as I am a huge tennis fan and have commentated on 5 Live Sports Extra for the past six years.

In Beijing, I will be working with Karen Pickering and Steve Parry on the swimming for radio. Karen will assist me on the open water event, and then I transfer to television for the diving and some basketball commentary.

It's not all over then, as I will be staying on for the Paralympic swimming, where I will provide the television commentary along with Marc Woods.

All things considered, it's not a bad life!

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