WITH just days to go until the Japanese Olympic swimming team arrives in Basildon, one of the country’s top sporting coaches has visited the borough.

Fumiyo Minemura, head coach of the Japanese Paralmypic squad, dropped into the Sporting Village, off Cranes Farm Road, to see where her team will prepare for the Games.

The Paralympians, some renowned globally for their swimming skills, will come to the borough in August to train, while the main Olympic team arrives on Monday.

Basildon residents using the village while the athletes are over will be able to watch as both squads get in shape for the Games in the Sporting Village’s 50m pool.

Ms Minemura said her team was thrilled to be using the village’s international-size pool as a training base.

She said: “It’s very different to London.

“There’s a lot of greenery here and it generates a relaxing atmosphere.”

She said the Japanese sports stars will try to do some sightseeing while in the UK, possibly including a visit to Southend if they have time.

Ms Minemura, who exchanged gifts during her tour of the £38million village with Basildon mayor Mo Larkin, added: “The facilities here at the Sporting Village get 100 out of 10 in my book.”

The Japanese VIP gave Mrs Larkin a signed Olympic tracksuit from the Japanese squad, while Mrs Larkin reciprocated with a glass ornament of the Sporting Village building.

The Olympic squad will spend almost a month training at the pool until the swimming heats of the London 2012 Games begin on July 28. While they are training, the athletes will stay at the Holiday Inn, in Festvial Leisure Park.

When the Games are on, they will be bussed in everyday from the Olympic Village at Stratford.

Meanwhile, schools have already scrambled for a spot to watch the Olympians at work.

Paul Brace, head of Basildon’s leisure services, said: “We’ve been contacted by a few schools already and have given them places to come and watch from the spectators stands.

“We want as many schoolchildren as possible to take this once in a lifetime chance and watch the athletes while they train.”