Marketing Manchester played a key role in delivering two elite swimming events enabling some of Team GB’s top athletes to take part in competitive swimming after their preparations for the Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Games were disrupted by the pandemic.  The two events took place at Manchester Aquatics Centre and were secured through the strong partnership with Manchester City Council, MCRactive, British Swimming and City of Manchester Swim Team.

In February 2021, the Manchester International Swim Meet attracted over 200 athletes, officials and volunteers, all of whom signed up to the event’s Covid-19 protocols designed on conjunction with Public Health England.  Participants were all accommodated at the nearby Hyatt Regency Hotel just 5 minutes’ walk from the Aquatics Centre, reducing the risk of spreading the virus at a time when national and international travel was severely restricted.  All involved were asked to provide a negative lateral flow test before entering the ‘competition bubble’. Attendants were also required to confine themselves to the meet hotel, the Manchester Aquatics Centre and private transport for the duration of the three-day meet.

In addition, face coverings and social distancing were mandatory at all times, other than when swimmers are in the water. These strict measures resulted in no positive coronavirus cases emerging from the event.

Despite almost 12 months without long course competition, athletes such as Adam Peaty, James Guy, Ellie Simmonds and Luke Greenbank put on a show, with multiple British records broken across the three days of action, which was witnessed by 25,000 people via the livestream coverage.

British Swimming’s chief executive, Jack Buckner said: “The Manchester International was a definite triumph – the level of planning and risk mitigation that went into getting the event off the ground, and then running it safely and smoothly, was unbelievable.

“I am extremely proud of what we managed to achieve thanks to the cooperation of everyone involved, from staff and partners through to athletes, volunteers and officials.

Following the successful delivery of the Manchester International Swim Meet and after positive feedback from athletes and coaches, British Swimming decided to stage a follow-up competition just weeks later, replicating the previous event and its rigorous covid security measures.  The protocols were repeated, with event partners working with the Manchester Safety Advisory Group (SAG), which includes Public Health England.

Again, the Manchester Aquatics Centre welcomed over 200 athletes, officials and volunteers to experience more preparation in the build up to Tokyo, with the covid measures proving successful with zero reported cases as in the International Meet.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, said of the competitive activity:

“We’re extremely pleased and proud of the successful, safe staging of the Manchester International Swim Meet and the British Swimming Invitation Meet for the nation’s top swimmers, with strict COVID protocols in place throughout to protect all participants, officials and volunteers.

“Working with British Swimming in this way, with the City of Manchester Swim Team playing a big part in making the event happen through their support, is further proof of our commitment to swimming and Team GB’s preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.”

The long-term benefits of the event were evident, with Team GB bringing home 8 Olympic medals at Tokyo plus 26 Paralympic medals after the most challenging of 18 months in the build-up to the Games.

Manchester remains a key city for Para Sport and for Swimming, as demonstrated by the addition of the World Para Swimming Championships to the event calendar which is coming to the city in July and August 2023, which will be the first time the city has hosted this world-class competition.

Paralympic silver medallist Grace Harvey trains at the British Para-Swimming National Performance Centre, based at the Manchester Aquatics Centre - so it is no surprise that she is relishing the prospect of the 2023 World Championships.

"I'm incredibly excited that the 2023 Para Swimming World Championships are coming to Manchester. It's my home pool, so it'll just be great to have some really fast competition right before the 2024 Paralympics in Paris the following year," she said. 

"Having the competition in Manchester is really special. A lot of the British Para-Swimming athletes are based in Manchester, so it'll be a great home advantage - and I know we actually love competing here whenever we get the chance to do that!”