The Loughborough university swimming club has been named BBC east midlands team of the year
Head coach Ian Armiger was joined by a bevy of top Loughborough swimmers as he collected the award on behalf of a club that has achieved success across national and international competitions over the last year.
The highlight of the year was Loughborough achieving its largest ever representation at the FINA World Championships this summer, with 14 swimmers competing for national teams and returning with a staggering five medals from a total GB haul of seven.
Since returning from Rome Loughborough’s swimmers have continued to excel breaking world, European and national records at a series of meets.
Coach Armiger put the club’s success down to its great team atmosphere and he was delighted to collect the award in his own back yard - in the same venue in which he leads the weekly swim club circuits.
“We thought we’d be good contenders for this award and I’m delighted we’ve won it,” he said. “We’re the top swim team in Britain and one of the best in the world and that’s down to every single person in the team, from the athletes and coaches to the staff that support us and people that take an interest in the team.
“The key to our success is our inclusive approach. Everyone feels welcome whether their aim is to gain a national top 10 ranking or reach an Olympic final. We want to help all our swimmers fulfil their dreams.
“Over the last 13 years we’ve built the programme up from very small beginnings and we’ve improved year on year. Last season was our best ever and we hope to carry that on to 2012, put as many swimmers as we can on the team, and bring back medals for GB.
“We’ve got such a strong squad with Olympic medallists, world champions and world record holders and it’s our aim to become a leader in global swimming. To have our success recognised by BBC East Midlands is a credit to everyone at Loughborough.”
Loughborough’s former director of athletics George Gandy was also recognised with a special lifetime achievement award.
The new UK Athletics National Event Coach for Endurance most recently guided Loughborough graduate Lisa Dobriskey to 1500m silver at the 2009 World Championships.
Since joining the University in 1976 Gandy has played a central role in supporting the its thriving athletics programme, steering the students to more than 100 national team titles and coaching over 75 athletes to international honours, including former Olympic champion Seb Coe.
Lord Coe sent a personal message for Gandy who was presented with the award by Loughborough University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Neil Halliwell.
Loughborough’s athletes took centre-stage at the gala awards celebration which was hosted by BBC sports presenter John Inverdale in the University’s Sir David Wallace Sports Hall.
British pole vaulter and national record holder Kate Dennison wowed the 1200-strong audience with an indoor demonstration utilising a specially constructed ramp.
Loughborough Lightning and England shooting sensation Jo Harten and team mate Katie Rose took part in a netball shoot-out, whilst student clubs including taekwondo, dance and Fever warmed up the crowds as they took their seats.
Mark Shardlow, Sports Editor of BBC East Midlands Today said, "It has been a terrific year for sport across the East Midlands. It was great to see so many champions and winners in one room.”
The BBC East Midlands Sport Awards was covered by BBC East Midlands Today, BBC Leicester, BBC Nottingham and BBC Derby, as well as online at the BBC Local websites.