British Gas to sponsor British swimming team

BRITISH Swimming have signed a six-year £15 million sponsorship deal with British Gas.

SWIMMING ON GAS: British Swimming is cashing on the six medals won in Beijing – including Rebecca Adlington’s double gold – with British Gas named as their new sponsor (Getty Images)

Despite the harsh economic climate, the news is a major boost to the Amateur Swimming Association (asa) and underlines how the 2012 effect is still assisting governing bodies land sponsorships and investments.

It follows British Cycling’s similar deal with Sky, while UK Athletics has a long-running sponsorship with global insurance brand Aviva.

“This is a great partnership and there is tremendous synergy between British Swimming, the home country federations and British Gas,” said asa chief executive David Sparkes

“We look forward to working with British Gas as long-term partner and this provides us all with the opportunity to take a significant step forward. Together we will work hard towards achieving more medals in London 2012 and get more people swimming, more often.

“What we’re trying to do is quite simple – win gold medals. To do that we need to be a cutting edge governing body.

“There are over 200 nations swimming and about 140 take it pretty damn seriously. To be competitive is getting tougher and tougher and this partnership will help us to do that.”

Under the terms of the deal, British Gas will become the title sponsor of all British teams. The money will also be split 50/50 between funding elite programmes, including the Paralympic team, and community projects.

Sparkes also revealed British Swimming was looking to host a meeting between the top European swimmers and the United States in Manchester later this year.

The event would mimic the series known as ‘The Duel in the Pool’ – a Ryder Cup style swim event stage bi-annually between the USA and Australia.

“We’re looking at the possibility of doing a European select event against the USA. There are serious discussions going on about doing something like that in 2009,” he said.

“It would be a select event drawing on a number of European countries taking on the mightiest swimming nation in the world – the United States. We’re hoping to do it later this year in Manchester.”

British Swimming performance director Dennis Pursley claimed the prospect of fueling an American/European swim rivalry would bring new fans to swimming.

“Potentially, it’s very exciting,” he said.

“It brings big attention to the sport and it’s another opportunity for the athletes to prove themselves. I understand there is an agreement in principle and I’d be surprised if it didn’t happen.”