Manchester will welcome some of the world’s best athletes as the Australian Swimming Team prepares to set up their pre-Olympic camp in the city.
The first group of Aussie swimmers, who picked up an impressive 20 medals in Beijing, will arrive in Manchester next weekend to be put through their paces in the Aquatic Centre ahead of London 2012.
The squad, including gold medal hopefuls James Magnussen, Eamon Sullivan and Stephanie Rice, will hold training sessions continuing at the centre until August 5.
The visit of the Australians, who will also use the city to prepare for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, is expected to be worth around £175,000 to the Manchester economy.
Swimming Australia Head Coach Leigh Nugent said the team are looking forward to returning to Manchester, having been based here for the 2009 Swimming FINA World Championships in Rome.
He said: “Many of the members of the team are familiar with the city and pool having competed here at the World Short Course championships in 2008 and being here on a staging camp in 2009.
“The Aquatic Centre is a great facility with everything we need to finalise preparations for London and we’re looking forward to a good stay in Manchester ahead of the Games.”
Local and community groups will be able to see the team up close during a number of open viewing and training sessions and grass roots swimming coaches from Manchester will be invited to pick up tips during a question and answer session with the Australian swimming coaches.
The Australian swimmers are not the only group to use the city as a pre-Olympic base, however, with athletes from Thailand and nearly 300 Brazilian Paralympians set to arrive this summer.
Cllr Rosa Battle, Manchester City Council's executive member for culture and leisure welcomed the arrival of the world class athletes and believes it enforces Manchester’s reputation as the home of sport in the UK.
She said: "The Australia Swim Team’s decision to choose Manchester as its training base for the Olympics, as well as for other world events, is testament to the sports facilities and infrastructure that we have available.
"The team's visit will provide our own young swimmers with the opportunity to see world-class athletes first hand and benefit from their experience, and we look forward to welcoming them to the city.”