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Wycombe look to Jones to emulate Olympic star
WYCOMBE might have unearthed a swimmer with the potential to emulate Great Britain’s two-time Olympian Simon Burnett.
Liam Jones has just broken a junior county record set by Burnett in 1999, and his coach at Wycombe District Swimming Club believes the 16-year-old could follow Burnett onto the international stage.
Kevin Brooks, who became head coach little more than a year ago, said: "Liam has eclipsed a long-established record by just under a second. That is a big improvement and shows his calibre because Simon went on to represent GB at two Olympic Games."
Jones broke the junior county 100m backstroke record at the Youth National Championships, when he came home in 1.00.97 compared to Burnett’s best junior time of 1.01.89.
Brooks said: "He’d been getting close, but the record was never really on the agenda. We just wanted him to do well at the nationals and he pb’ed twice. That is a really good indication of the level he’s at, and to be honest I reckon he can break his own record the next time he races."
That will be at a competition in November in a few weeks time, and he’ll have another chance a month later at an Open Meet in Sheffield just before Christmas.
They are short-term goals though. In the longer term Jones hopes to qualify for the British Championships next April, which doubles as trials for the Commonwealth Games, and then the European Junior Championships in 2015.
Brooks said: "Hopefully this record will give him the encouragement to step up into the realms of what Simon achieved. He’s certainly got a lot of ambition but he’ll have to work very hard, which he is doing - since I’ve been here he’s doubled the amount of training he’s doing and has improved massively."
Apart from breaking Burnett’s 100m record, Jones has also taken 14 seconds off his 200m time in the past 12 months.
Brooks, who coached Aylesbury’s Craig Gibbons to London 2012, said: "Liam is an excellent talent, one of the most talented swimmers I’ve ever coached and he certainly has the potential to represent his country.
"It’s about how you harness that, but he’s got everything he needs here at Wycombe. The door is wide open for him."
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