Mark Foster column: Team GB now a nation to be feared in the pool after a change in mentality

·4-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

There’s a buzz about Britain and the swimming world is talking about Britain now.

Sure, the US and Australia are still a class above us but teams will come away from this meet looking at what Team GB are doing. It is like, ‘Hang on, Britain are an emerging talent, how have they got here?’

People will want to tap into that culture and understand a programme that goes deep. We’re the top European nation and now third in the world.

It’s up to the swimmers, coaches and support staff to now work out how we can go on, get better and take on Australia.

I really don’t think you can underestimate the Adam Peaty effect. Sure, a lot of good changes have been made: facilities, coaches, programmes, everything is just that bit better across the board.

But every time he opens his mouth, it’s positive, definite, upbeat, full of purpose. His messaging rubs off on the others. Duncan Scott and Co will say as much, you only have to look at his amazing medal haul to see that.

Duncan’s actually quite tough on himself, I see that and think, ‘Don’t be so hard on yourself’. But, at the same time, I like it. He’s the most most decorated British athlete at a single Games and yet he still gives off a sense of disappointment.

I hope when he lands back in London and gets off the plane, he realises quite how much heavier his luggage is than when he left. I hope the photoshoots and interviews make him realise that.

But that disappointment from him, Adam and the other guys in that final race, the 4x100metre medley relay, highlights a change of mentality. A few years ago when they won the silver medal in that event they were really happy.

They felt as world champions this time around that it was theirs to lose. But when you look at the names on that start list for the US – the world record holder for the freestyle in Caeleb Dressel and the world record holder for the 100m backstroke in Ryan Murphy – you know there’s no real reason to be disappointed.

But this will spur them on in the three years from now to Paris.

Take that relay squad, for example. Adam’s the oldest at 26, so he’ll still be good in three years’ time, the other guys are younger and they’ll be even better. I’m over the moon with what they’ve done here but there’s so much more to come.

Genuinely, I don’t think things will tail off at the next Games. I’m not saying we’re going to double up our medal count or anything like that because that’s too hard to do. I can’t see us becoming the United States of swimming but slowly we can become the next Australia. This team will be as good in Paris if not better.

It’s now a case of turning those near misses into hits, and I have real belief in that layer below.

Take Freya Anderson — she has so much more to give, she just needs to believe and get more hungry. She’s got all the attributes for Paris.


Abbie Wood’s only been on the scene for about a year plus Anna Hopkin looks great. They’re all improving and I hope they come away from these Games thinking ‘oh my god, we nearly won medals, I want more of that feeling’.

I’m not saying come Paris those three girls will win all their events but they will all blossom and be better athletes for their experiences in Tokyo.

For now, we should celebrate the history making by Scott and the whole team, their best medal haul ever.

What’s funny is the number of medals hasn’t exactly blown me away because I was always optimistic about what this group could achieve. Going off world rankings, you would have expected the results from Adam, Duncan, Tom Dean and Luke Greenbank.

But rankings and Olympic reality are two entirely different things. All swimmers and coaches want to do is achieve their best. That’s what’s so satisfying in Tokyo.

Take Anna Hopkin coming seventh. Ok, that wasn’t a medal but she swum her best ever time in the final. That’s what you want, and I’m just so excited to see what comes next.

Read More

Adam Peaty leads praise of Team GB’s 200m relay gold medallists at Tokyo Olympics

Duncan Scott ‘really gutted’ as he makes history but gold just eludes him for a second time in the 200m individual medley

Team GB celebrates greatest ever Olympics in the swimming pool with silver medal in 4x100m medley relay

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting