By Mike Rowbottom

Shang Xiutang_and_Professor_Dame_Glynis_Breakwell_08-03-12March 8 - China's top 25 swimmers will train alongside British Olympians at the University of Bath for three weeks before this summer's Games in London.

The Chinese competitors and their supporting staff will arrive for their final preparations on July 2 and depart for the Olympic Village on July 22 ahead of the Opening Ceremony on July 27.

A delegation from the country's sports and swimming federations visited the university this week to conclude the arrangements and to sign a contract with Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, vice-chancellor of the University of Bath.

Stephen Baddeley, director of sport at the university, hosted the Chinese visitors as they toured the campus' world leading swimming facilities, which include a 50 metre pool plus sport science backup areas for physiology, physiotherapy, ice baths and saunas, as well as video analysis capabilities.

"China is one of sport's global superpowers and, as such, demand world leading facilities and services to support their athletes as they prepare for the 2012 Games," said Baddeley, a former Commonwealth Games and European badminton champion.

"We are thrilled they have chosen the University of Bath as their pre-Games training base."

The nation finished seventh on the medal table in swimming in front of a home crowd at the Beijing 2008 Olympics as they claimed six medals, one of which was gold.

Liu Zige_beijing_2008_08-03-12
The gold was won by Liu Zige (pictured) in the women's 200 metre butterfly final where she also set a world record of 2min 04.18sec in the discipline.

The 22-year-old will also be a major medal contender at the London 2012 Olympics having won silver in the 200m butterfly at the Shanghai 2011 World Championships.

Last summer China signed an agreement to make Leeds their main pre-Games training base, and around 300 athletes, coaches and support staff in at least 11 sports, including athletics, are due to be in the city from July.

But this group of swimmers will be making its way west, rather than north, upon arrival in Britain later this year.

The Chinese contingent will join Malaysian athletes, who have been using the University of Bath as a regular training base since early 2010 in the lead up to large European based tournaments, as well as for the Olympic Games.

bath 50m_pool_09-03-12
Professor Dame Breakwell said: "We already have strong links with China in terms of academic research and collaboration, so we are delighted to extend this partnership into the areas of sports performance and sport science.

"We have over a thousand Chinese students currently studying at Bath and I'm sure they will be very proud to learn that their university will be hosting the Olympic swimming team ahead of the Games in London."

The Chinese delegation at the university included the vice-chairman of the China Swimming Association (CSA), Shang Xiutang, who signed the contract with the university, as well as the CSA's director Yuan Haoran, head coach Yao Zhengjie, team manager Xu Qi, and director of sports science Lu Yifan.

Sports Training Village staff will need to be on their toes once the Olympic Games close on August 9 to turn round the facilities to host the ParalympicsGB camp, featuring 10 sports and more than 200 team members, in the run up to the Paralympic Games.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
March 2011: Russia eyeing Bath for London 2012 training camp
August 2010: Malaysian badminton team training at University of Bath
July 2009: Malaysia chooses Bath over Loughborough for London 2012