Brits will make Olympic splash

Competing in the Olympics is a special feat and even more memorable on home soil. 

In roughly three months time, a trio of British swimmers will be experiencing that moment first-hand. Cayman recently got a chance to see 2012 Olympians Amy Smith, Caitlin McClatchey and Joe Roebuck in action. 

Alongside their coach and future technical director of Cayman swimming Ian Armiger, the swimmers staged youth clinics at the Lions Aquatic Centre and Camana Bay Aquatic Centre. For the likes of Smith, 24, this summer’s London spectacle is exciting. 

“This will be my first Olympics and I expect it to be the most intense competition I’ve ever had,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to it and I’m excited about being there.” 

Smith is an acclaimed sprint swimmer who qualified for the Olympics in the 50 metre and 100m freestyle events. A former collegiate champion and British record holder, Smith has numerous accolades to her name such as 2011 world championship semi-finalist and Commonwealth Games silver medallist in 2006 and 2010. 

All of the Brits figure to be up against stiff competition in their various disciplines. Roebuck, 26, might be battling the most high-profile swimmers in American stars Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte as he competes in the 200m butterfly, 200m and 400m Individual Medley. Yet Roebuck remains confident in his chances to earn a medal. 

“This will be my first Olympics and London offers a fantastic chance to do good on home ground,” Roebuck said. “There were 2,000 people at my last university meet and 17,000 people for the world championships. The noise was really loud then so I can only imagine what it’ll be for the Olympics. 

“My next birthday is in June so a good birthday present for myself, coach Armiger and my country would be to win a medal.” 

Roebuck has the potential to excel as he is this year’s British champion in the 200m butterfly and 200m IM. He won silver medals in the 200m and 400m IM at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and is currently the British record holder in the 200m fly at 1.51.23 and the 400m IM at 4.01.63. 

A similar resume can be boasted by McClatchey, 26, who will be swimming the 200m free in London. A former sportswoman of the year, she was previously the British champion and record holder in the 100m, 200m and 400m free.  

The three-time Olympian, who competed at the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Olympics, states her expectations are measured. 

“This is my third Olympics and it’s amazing and exciting,” McClatchey said. “It is the most intense experience as the world championships are not the same. I can’t wait to be part of the British group of Olympians and race some of the best swimmers in the world. I’m expecting the competition will be tough.” 

Smith, Roebuck and McClatchey all visited Cayman for the first time and had positive reviews. It was the second visit for Armiger, 60, who coached all of the Olympians at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, England.  

The born and raised Newcastle native, who came here last November, states he can see the trio bringing back medals. 

“The swimmers were here to train and motivate young swimmers,” Armiger said. “Everyone here was great and superb. I brought my wife Sylvia, who is part of the British Olympic Committee and I will start the Cayman job in September. 

“I’m tied up with Olympic preparation at the moment. This group of swimmers is prepared to be in the finals. They are capable of coming out with a medal. Joe is a world number one in the 200m free and Amy is a top 100m free swimmer.  

“They are all top eight swimmers so for me it’s great and exciting. We had 12 swimmers in total on the university team and one swimmer make the Paralympics (taking place in London this summer). The programme did well and is inclusive.” 

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Geoffrey Butler was among those that learned from the Brits. – PHOTOS: MATTHEW YATES

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