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Canada Attracts Atkinson As Director

Jan 31, 2013  - Craig Lord

Britain has lost one of the key men in line to take on the role of performance director after the departure in November of Michael Scott. John Atkinson, head of Britain's successful Paralympics swim team as disabilities director for British Swimming, is moving to Canada to be National High Performance Director in Ottawa.

The news comes with more developments: an announcement is due later today on Pierre Lafontaine, current CEO of Swim Canada.

Atkinson, meanwhile, brings a wealth of experience with him. Having worked in Australia, he served as Britain's Youth Team Coach from 2001 to 2004 and right-hand man to then elite performance director Bill Sweetenham.

"I am delighted to have been appointed to the Director of High Performance role with Swimming Canada,” Atkinson said. “The vision and desire of the organization for success was something that impressed me greatly andI am now looking forward to working with all involved on the journey to Rio.

"He has experience around the world and is well-respected by many Canadian coaches who have worked alongside him at the international level or attended his clinics in Canada,” said Lafontaine.

"Atkinson will join Swimming Canada on March 1. He will be meeting with the top coaches in the country and getting ready for the World Championships Trials in Victoria from April 3 to 6," the federation said in a statement to the media.

He becomes the second British recruitment to Canada since London 2012, former coach at Loughborough Ben Titley having moved over the pond last autumn to head up the excellence centre in Toronto.

"We’re excited to have John join Swimming Canada. His expertise, his international experience and his organizational skills will be tremendous assets,” said Swimming Canada President David de Vlieger today.

"We’re sorry to be losing John. He’s made a massive contribution to British Swimming both in his time with the swimming programme and latterly by leading the highly successful team to the Paralympics in London,” said current British Swimming Chief Executive David Sparkes. "However, we also appreciate that John has a passion for swimming and wants to make his mark as a world leader in swimming. We wish him well in Canada and look forward to seeing him in his new role at the next international competition."