By Nick Butler

British Swimming have announced the changes in order to raise performance levels before Rio 2016 ©British SwimmingNovember 29 - British Swimming have announced the closure of Intensive Training Centres (ITC) in Swansea and Stirling in their latest structural change seeking improvements after a series of disappointing international results.

After winning three swimming gold medals at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, Britain had high hopes going into London 2012 but, in stark contrast to the success enjoyed by home athletes elsewhere, ultimately won just three minor medals.

This year at the World Championships in Barcelona they fared even worse and languished alongside Finland and Trinidad and Tobago on the medals table after earning a solitary bronze medal.

Following these disappointments British Swimming suffered the loss of £4 million ($6.5 million/€4.5 million) worth of funding from UK Sport and the closure of facilities in Swansea and Stirling follows the closure of another ITC in Stockport earlier this year.

Although there will be a centralisation of focus on the other centres, the three year plan will involve will involve greater liaison between English, Scottish and Welsh bodies.

This forms a "strategy of resources being more sharply focused on producing medallists for Rio 2016 and beyond," it is claimed. 

Harnessing a new generation to take over from the likes of the now retired Becky Adlington appears a major challenge for British Swimming heading towards Rio 2016 ©Getty ImagesHarnessing a new generation to take over from the likes of the now retired Becky Adlington appears a major challenge for British Swimming heading towards Rio 2016 ©Getty Images

Set up in 2008, the ITC's offered facilities including a full-time head coach, appointed by British Swimming and 25 hours of dedicated pool training a week.

These resources will now be focused more centrally on bases at Bath and Loughborough 

"Core funding" will be provided to support the infrastructure of the Scottish Swimming and Swim Wales performance pathways.

Two further streams will enhance the support of young athletes within the performance pathway, and athletes currently at Podium and Podium Potential level will continue to be able to access resource for camps, competitions and sport science support.

"We're pleased to have reached an agreement with Scottish Swimming and Swim Wales on investment within the home nations," said British Swimming national performance director Chris Spice.

"We will be investing in Scotland and Wales' elite swimming infrastructure and the funding will be targeted towards athletes that have a realistic chance of winning medals on the international stage up to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

"In addition we will also be investing in the performance pathway of the sport to help produce athletes of the future.

"We're investing in the future of swimming in Scotland and Wales, and therefore the future of British Swimming.

"Scottish Swimming and Swim Wales have been very professional throughout the whole process and I'm looking forward to continuing to work closely with them to maximise performances of our best athletes and finding our stars of the future."

Given the fact that Swansea has also recently lost its status as a High Performance Centre for the British Paralympic team this first appears as another blow for swimming in Wales..

One of Wales' biggest stars in two time Olympian Jemma Lowe has already moved training bases from Swansea to Bath and it appears likely others, including British freestyle champion Jazmin Carlin, could follow in her footsteps.

British record holder over 100m Butterfly Jemma Lowe has already relocated away from Swansea ©Getty ImagesBritish record holder over 100m Butterfly Jemma Lowe has already relocated away from Swansea ©Getty Images

However, Robert James, chief executive of Swim Wales, was pleased that progress has been made and insisted that they are "embarking on the next steps towards continuing the success of its elite swimmers."

"We are very pleased that an agreement has been reached which will see British Swimming continue an investment and partnership in the Welsh Swimming Performance Pathway," he said.

"Together with Sport Wales, it is envisaged the British swimming investment will support Swim Wales in our long term strategies.

"Our immediate focus continues to be on the 2014 Commonwealth Games where we will be seeking to build upon our medal tally from Delhi.

Similar sentiments were given by Ally Whike, Scottish Swimming's director of performance. 

"The new agreement with British Swimming and the Sport Scotland Institute of Sport recognises the approach and the success that Scottish Swimming has had in the past few years and provides investment and support to enhance what we are doing in Scotland," he said. 

"We have strong partnerships around our four performance centres in Aberdeen, Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh, and this investment allows us to enhance these partnerships, ensuring we continue to support and develop the coaches and athletes in the programmes."