By Duncan Mackay

John Atkinson head and shouldersJanuary 31 - John Atkinson has been appointed as Swimming Canada's director of high performance after resigning from his role as Britain's national performance director fo disability swimming. 

Atkinson had lead the British Swimming disability programme since 2010, culminating in a 39-medal haul at London 2012, including seven gold as Britain finished seventh overall in the medals table. 

Atkinson will leave British Swimming at the end of next month to take up his new role.

"I've had a successful 12 years across different roles within British Swimming and I will take with me fond memories," he said.

"However, the opportunity to lead the Olympic programme in Canada was too good a challenge to turn down.

"I'd like to thank everyone involved in the swimming and disability swimming programmes for their support over that period.

"I've made a lot of friends within British Swimming and I wish everyone the best for the future."

The process to find a new performance director is already underway while former national performance director Tim Reddish, the chairman of the British Paralympic Association, will lead the programme on an interim basis to ensure continuity and development of plans for Rio 2016.

Tim Reddish in front of London 2012 signBritish Paralympic Association chairman Tim Reddish will run the swimming programme while a replacement for John Atkinson is recruited

"We're sorry to be losing John," said David Sparkes, the chief executive of British Swimming.

"He's made a massive contribution to British Swimming both in his time with the swimming programme and latterly by leading the highly successful team to the Paralympics in London.

"However, we also appreciate that John has a passion for swimming and wants to make his mark as a world leader in swimming.

"We wish him well in Canada and look forward to seeing him in his new role at the next international competition."

Atkinson, who is from Chorley, had previously spent six years coaching in Australia. 

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank John for his work with the programme and wish him luck in his new role," said Reddish.

"It's been great to see the success the team has enjoyed and I will step into the position on an interim basis to continue John's good work until a replacement has been found."

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