Tri-nations go head-to-head in schools competition

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THE SWIMMERS of tomorrow will look to follow in the footsteps of Rebecca Adlington this weekend when a major international schools competition descends on Sunderland for the first time.

Sunderland’s Aquatic Centre will host the International Schools Federation’s meeting of England, Scotland and Ireland on Saturday, where teams of schoolchildren representing the three nations will go head-to-head.

The competition is seen as a stepping stone for those with the potential to represent Great Britain on the big stage, with double-Olympic gold medallist Adlington one of the most notable success stories from the English schools system.

Organiser Nicola Atherton said: “A lot of the kids will have already represented Great Britain, but for some, this will be a big opportunity and a stepping stone for them.

“The ASA (swimming’s governing body) look at it very closely because it’s such a prestigious event.

“The likes of Rebecca Adlington have come through the English schools system in the past, so there’s clearly role models for these swimmers to follow.

“This could be the first stop for some that go on to reach Olympic games.”

The North East is heavily represented in the England team after the region was triumphant in the national gala, in Liverpool, last month.

Atherton added: “This is the first time the ISF have tried to put a competition on in North East England.

“It’s a direct competition between the three countries, with the swimmers selected from their own national galas.

“And the North East will naturally have plenty of swimmers competing after winning the England trials.”

Competitors, aged between 11 and 18, will be divided into three age groups in the competition, which runs from 10am to 4pm on Saturday.