The last 12 months has seen a number of successes and changes in the West Country across all levels of competition.
Despite losing head coach Jon Rudd, who took up a director of swimming role in Ireland, Plymouth Leander appointed Robin Armayan, who now runs the world class swimming programme at Plymouth College, dubbed the ‘Olympic School’.
Rudd’s move followed former Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte’s decision to return to her homeland Lithuania although top British sprinter Ben Proud stayed with the club.
Armayan joined the Plymouth College-Plymouth Leander partnership in 2014 from Poole Swimming Club, where he was a head coach. A year later he was selected by Great Britain as a coach for the FINA Junior Swimming Championships.
The Plymouth role attracted applications from all over the world but Armayan, having been number two to Rudd, uniquely understood the demands of the high-performance training programme, while ensuring students receive a first-class education.
His first job was to try and regain the National Arena League title hav- ing been beaten by a single point the previous year by Guildford City. Unfortunately it proved not to be their day as long term West Country rivals Millfield romped to victory with 402 points ahead of Leander (338) and City of Cardiff (319). This was only the second time Millfield had lifted the trophy.
The National Final is likely to be another close affair as Leander got their revenge and came out on top in the Western League.
Meanwhile, Proud enjoyed a good year and started by beating his own British record to take the 50-metre freestyle title at the British Swim- ming Championships held in Sheffield.
The 22-year-old’s time of 21.32 seconds – his previous best was 21.54 – also secured him a place at the World Championships in Budapest. Proud completed a double by winning the 50m butterfly.
At the FINA World Championships, Proud picked up a bronze medal in the 50m freestyle (21.43) but made up for it when winning the 50m butterfly in a new national record time of 22.75.
The British quartet of Chris Walker-Hebborn (National Centre Bath), Adam Peaty (National Centre Loughborough), James Guy (National Centre Bath) and Duncan Scott (University of Stirling) set a new British record time of 3:28.95 to pick up a silver medal behind the USA in the 4x100m team medley.
Meanwhile, there was a great result for Devon in the National County Team Championships where, for the first time for many years, the county was able to field a strong team. Yorkshire broke Lancashire’s strong hold on the title by winning with 456 points with Devon coming in second (435).
It was also a successful summer for University of Bath Olympian Guy who was a four-time winner in the 200m and 400m freestyle and 100m and 200m butterfly. Team-mate Walker-Hebborn was successful in 100m and 200m backstroke events while Anna Hopkin became national 50m freestyle champion.