Page last updated at 09:13 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Team Australia chooses Manchester

Stephanie Rice
Australia's Stephanie Rice won more golds in Beijing than any other woman

One of the world's top swimming teams will train in Manchester in the run up to the London Olympics in 2012.

Australia has signed a long-term deal allowing them to train at the city's Aquatics Centre for at least three major competitions until 2014.

Officials described the deal as a coup for the city and proof the region will benefit from London hosting the games.

Australia won six gold medals in the pool at the Beijing Olympics, almost half of the country's total haul.

The squad will utilise both 50m pools at the centre, which was built for the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and is home to the British Paralympic swimming team.

Economic benefits

Councillor Mike Amesbury, member for culture and leisure at Manchester City Council, said the authority was delighted that a team of Australia's calibre had chosen the city as its base.

Manchester Aquatics Centre
The venue already hosts top-class swimming events

"It is testament to the sports facilities and infrastructure that Manchester has available for elite athletes such as Swim Australia that they have opted to train here for their next three international competitions. We look forward to welcoming them to the city and wish them every success now and in the future."

The deal was supported by the Northwest Regional Development Agency as part of its role to secure training camps in the north west of England ahead of 2012.

It believes the city can look forward to "capitalising on the economic benefits" of the announcement.

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