By Tom Degun

womens water poloFebruary 24 - Graeme Thompson has been appointed by British Swimming as the new performance director for women's water polo, where his primary objective will be securing qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Thompson, who has previously served as performance director for the Rugby Football League (RFL), most recently worked as performance advisor with UK Sport in the lead up to London 2012 across a variety of Olympic and Paralympic sports, including water polo.

The women's water polo team qualified for London 2012 due to host nation status but were eliminated in the group stages as they lost all three of their matches.

But the women's water polo team has made strong progress in the past few years, qualifying for the 2012 European Championships for the first time in 15 years.

"This is a great opportunity for both me and the sport," said Thompson.

"I'm really looking forward to getting started.

"The team has made very good progress in recent years and has significant potential for Rio.

"I'm looking to drive British Water Polo to be competing with the best in 2016.

"I will be looking at developing aspects of the talent pathways leading to the elite team, towards making us, Great Britain, one of the most competitive water polo nations in 2016 and beyond."

womens water polo 2The women’s water polo team qualified for London 2012 due to host nation status but were eliminated in the group stages

Thompson will join the team based at the High Performance Centre in Manchester where he will be working within a programme benefitting from an increased funding investment of £4.5 million ($7 million/€5.3 million) from UK Sport for the Rio 2016 Olympic cycle.

This is up from £2.9 million ($4.6 million/€3.5 million) which was shared between the men's and women's teams in the run up to London 2012.

Thompson will look to use the increased funding with the long-term goal of making the team regular medal contenders at the Olympics while he will also provide high level strategic guidance to British Water Polo and look to improve the talent development pathways.

"Graeme's appointment further strengthens the British Swimming women's water polo team who have made significant gains in the past few years and were rewarded with additional funding through to Rio 2016, our focus being to achieve qualification," said British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes.

"Graeme brings with him a wealth of experience from UK Sport and from the RFL, where he played a strong role in driving up performance from grassroots to elite levels and we look forward to using his experience and leadership in the Water Polo programme."

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