Stockport Metro swimmers aim for Tokyo Olympics

Holly Hibbott and Katie Matts
Holly Hibbott and Katie Matts

Two teenage swimmers from Life Leisure’s Stockport Metro Swimming programme are aiming for the Tokyo Olympics after being selected for British Swimming’s Podium Potential programme.

Katie Matts, 17, and 16-year-old Holly Hibbott are among just 33 swimmers nationwide to join the programme, which offers specialist training to athletes with the potential to win medals at the Tokyo games in 2020.

The announcement of their selection has ensured a big splash for the start of the 2017 Stockport Metro swimming programme, and builds on the town’s long tradition of success in the pool.

The pair are already British gold medal winners. In January, the girls showed off their international mettle by representing team GB on trips to major swimming events in the US and Belgium, where both were placed in the finals as they began their transition from junior to senior swimming competitions.

The Texas event – the Austin leg of the USA Grand Prix – gave Katie and Holly the chance to compete against some of the best athletes in the world, and gain invaluable competition experience for their Olympic pathway.

At the Speedo Flanders Cup in Belgium, Holly won gold in the 200m butterfly event – beating local swimmer Valentine Dumont into second and Olympic champion Mireia Belmonte into third, as well as the 400m and 800m freestyle. Katie also put in a season’s best time to win silver in the 200m breast stroke.

Katie and Holly have just set off to South Africa for three weeks’ altitude training with the University of Pretoria to build their stamina for the year ahead.

It is all in preparation for the next significant milestone on the road to swimming gold in Tokyo – the World Trials in Sheffield, which start in April.

Katie said: “We are so proud to be selected for the Podium Potential programme and be attending events like these, and look forward to giving our utmost at an international level to live up to the legacy of Stockport Metro swimmers and British Swimming’s belief in us.”

Holly added: “It’s a great honour to have the opportunity to work towards representing Great Britain in the 2020 Olympics. We have been training together for three years now, and this selection makes all the hours of hard work with Stockport Metro’s coaches worthwhile.”

Stockport Metro Performance Director Sean Kelly, said: “I’m incredibly proud of them. Katie and Holly are fantastic examples of how expert local coaching and single-minded hard work can propel our swimming talent to Olympic potential.”