TAZMIN Pugh has been rewarded for yet another year of excellent progress by being named in British Swimming’s 2016 Podium Potential performance squad.
The performance squads are split into two categories – Podium and Podium Potential – and, as a rising star deemed to have a hugely promising future in the sport, 15-year-old Pugh has been chosen for the latter squad.
The Pershore ace, a former member of the town’s swimming club and now thriving for the renowned Ellesmere College Titans, is among 66 athletes across Podium (21) and Podium Potential (45) who have been selected to the World Class Performance Programme for the 2015/16 season following an extensive selection procedure.
On defining nominations to UK Sport, British Swimming undertakes a thorough analysis of athletes’ current and past performances to assess their ability to win future medals on the Olympic stage.
Selection is fitting recognition for Pugh’s mightily impressive 2015 which she capped by winning an amazing six medals – three individual and three team – at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa where she was the second youngest member of the England team.
Soon afterwards, the former Pershore schoolgirl was shining back in her homeland as she took the English Schools’ Swimming Association (ESSA) Inter-Divisional Short Course Championships (seniors) at City of Leeds Swimming Club by storm when representing the West Midlands.
Up against older swimmers in the multi-age 15/16/17-year group, Pugh won the 100m fly in a new Regional Junior and ESSA record time of 1:00.78 to remain first in the UK rankings and the second quickest of all time for a 15-year-old, missing the British record by just 0.2 of a second.
In the 200m fly Pugh led from the start and increased her dominance throughout to win by 4.5 seconds in another new Regional Junior and second ESSA record time of 2:10.22 to sit number one in the UK and the fastest of all time for a 15-year-old.
She is also ranked number one in Europe for the 200m fly (Short Course) for 15/16-year-olds by nearly one second.
With many other wins of note to her name, Pugh’s progress is clearly impressing British Swimming.
Now, as one of the swimmers selected on to the World Class programmes, she is eligible to receive advanced training camp and competition opportunities, access to world-class sports science and medicine services and enhanced support from British Swimming performance staff and National Institute of Sport programmes across the country.
Athletes will also receive targeted financial assistance from UK Sport through the World Class Performance Programme’s Athlete Personal Award (APA).
Podium level support identifies athletes who have the potential to medal at Rio 2016, while Podium Potential support marks a longer-term investment by supporting athletes who are considered to have a greater chance of medalling at Tokyo 2020.
Swimmers selected for the Podium squad include household names such as English stars Adam Peaty, Liam Tancock, Chris Walker-Hebborn, Fran Halsall and Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, so Pugh is in some illustrious company.
British Swimming National Performance Director Chris Spice said: “This investment in British Swimming’s talent is vital in enabling our athletes to pursue their performance goals for 2016 and beyond.
“Over the past two years our focus on process-driven goals supporting our clear medal opportunities has delivered fantastic results. This valuable support has helped us to achieve as a team and I’d like to thank UK Sport and the National Lottery for their continued investment.
“The challenge for us all now is to build on our successes to date in the critical year ahead.”
British Swimming Head of Performance Pathway Tim Jones said: “It has been great to have so many talented swimmers to consider for 2016. We have used the opportunity to make some obvious investments into a group of young athletes who have burst on to the international scene in 2015, but also a small number who we believe have some really interesting high performance characteristics.
“Through membership of the World Class Podium Potential Programme we believe we can help all of our athletes on their journey by further nurturing their talent.
“All swimmers have been set clear personalised outcome and process goals for the coming season and we will be monitoring more closely than ever the successful completion of these targets.”