Updated: Monday, 24th September 2018 @ 5:48am

Toasting the success of Stockport Metro

Toasting the success of Stockport Metro

By James Johnson

If you were to ask someone what the first thing they think of when they think of Stockport, it’s unlikely they would reply ‘swimming’. However, given Stockport Metro’s recent success, that perception might soon change.

Thanks to its incredible achievements in Delhi this October, the club is now the most successful in Britain. They represented British swimming at the Commonwealth Games this October in style. The team’s results as a whole were fantastic, but James Goddard was a particularly bright star.

James - who won two gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi – has been at the club since the age of eight. He progressed slowly but surely through the programme, winning national titles in his age group, then going on to represent Great Britain at junior and senior levels.

James’ story is certainly not a typical one. James said: “My father was from the Seychelles, and I lived there until I was five. However, my mum was from Stockport, and I’ve lived there ever since moving over.”

James made his British debut in 2000, won his first Commonwealth gold in 2002, and since then has performed at the Olympics, and World and European Championships.

His Commonwealth backstroke time of one minute, 55.58 seconds means he is now the fourth fastest textile-suit man in swimming history. Until 2009 there were faster swimmers who used polyurethane suits, but these have since been banned.

Sean Kelly was delighted by the team’s performance as a whole, but particularly James’. He said: “James was absolutely immense. James’ backstroke must have been one of the great swims of all time. We were well aware of the pitfalls and we dealt with them well. I thought we would definitely win three medals, and Michael Rock and Keri-Anne’s medals were a bonus.”

Despite the team’s fantastic performance however, there were low points. Sean explained: “The low point was a few swimmers getting sick, and Michael Rock Getting E.Coli.”

While hard work and dedication clearly plays a huge part in the Stockport team’s success, there are other factors. One is the very high standard of facilities. Stockport Metro has excellent resources at its disposal. Its main pool is 50m long with eight lanes, jumbo anti-wave lane ropes and an electronic Omega timing system. Furthermore, there is a ‘high performance land conditioning suite’ that has cameras and technical analysis facilities.

Both coach Sean Kelly and James were at pains to point out how much the setting in Stockport accounts for the team’s success. James said: “Stockport has always had a great tradition in swimming, and it’s always had a great swimming community. We’ve just got a great programme here. We have a great team, and it’s a world-class setup.”

Sean agreed, and was quick to praise the staff behind the scenes at the club. He said: “Having full-time workers is a big advantage. We have great staff, great financial backing, and great support from the Intensive Training Centre.”

Since moving to the Grand Central Pools, fourteen Stockport Metro athletes have qualified for the Olympic Games, among these four Olympic medallists – making it the most successful club in British history. Steve Parry won a bronze medal in Athens, Graeme Smith also gained a bronze in Atlanta, and Adrian Turner was a semi-finalist in Atlanta.

Impressively, five current Stockport Metro swimmers competed in Beijing. Keri-Anne Payne stormed to silver in the inaugural 10k Marathon Open Water event, with Cassie Patten taking bronze in the same event. Michael Rock, James Goddard, David Carry and Keri-Anne Payne also competed. Michael Rock a silver in the 200m fly - the first medal of his senior international career – after missing the European Championships in August to finish a law degree.

Scotsman David Carry won a bronze in the 400m freestyle and silver in the 4x200m freestyle relay, and Keri-Anne Payne won a bonus bronze in the 400m individual medley. Stockport Metro’s performance meant that if it were ranked as a country, it would have finished 5th in the swimming table, above New Zealand, Scotland and Wales.

As you might expect, the club has a long-term strategy for the 2012 Olympics in London, which are looming on the horizon. The club has been selected as an Intensive Training Centre, after being subjected to a thorough selection process to ensure the club could provide the best facilities and services for athletes.

These facilities include a high performance land conditioning suite, and a strength and conditioning gym. The full-time staff that Sean gave credit to include a full time performance scientist, biomechanist, strength and conditioning coach, nutritionist, physiotherapist, and a sports psychologist.

Both Sean and James will hope that these facilities can give them the best possible preparation for the Olympics. Unsurprisingly after the success in Delhi, the pair are looking forward to London 2012 – but they aren’t getting ahead of themselves.

James said: “I’m on a break now, but only because the coach is telling me to stay out of the water! We’re all looking to go and get medals at the 2011 FINA Championships in Shanghai next year.”

Sean added: “After flying the flag in Delhi, we hope the home crowd can work in our favour at the Olympics.”