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Longtime British coach John Atkinson to lead Swimming Canada

Canada's Brittany Maclean

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Longtime British swimming coach John Atkinson is joining Canada's national swim program.

Atkinson will be Swimming Canada's director of high performance.

Atkinson has worked with the British team since 2001, most recently as its national performance director of the Paralympic program.

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"We're sorry to be losing John," British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes said in a release. "He's made a massive contribution to British Swimming both in his time with the swimming program and latterly by leading the highly successful team to the Paralympics in London."

Atkinson had led the para-swimming program since 2010, which culminated in a 39-medal haul at the 2012 Paralympics in London. The native of Chorley, England, began coaching in 1986. His resume also includes six years coaching in Australia.

The news comes a day after Pierre Lafontaine announced he was stepping down as Swimming Canada's CEO and national team director.

Swimming Canada's goal is to rank among the top eight medal-producing nations at the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, and top six in 2020.

Atkinson will join Swimming Canada on March 1.

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