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British Swimming Review

By 4th December 2012Diary, Swim

Yesterday I decided to speak out about the British Swimming Review. I did this as I care passionately about swimming and would love to see a positive change that would help the future of British Swimming.
My intention was not to place blame. Most people involved in the sport, or sport in general, will understand how many factors have to be considered. It isn’t just one major issue, it’s a combination of things that have been poor and it is these that we swimmers believe need to be addressed.

A Head Coach, Performance Director(s) and Board members are crucial to the sport. They are the people who administer our sport and decide our schedule. They decide dates for our trials and team camps. They are the people we turn to if we have an issue or problem. They advise swimmers looking to develop which clubs/programmes to go to. They help each individual and coach with their programme each year and look at areas of weakness and strength in our set-ups.

This is why I believe a British person (or at least someone who lives in this country) is crucial for the roles of Head Coach/Performance Director. This person should know the system, the athletes and the coaches intimately, as well as how we all work.

We’d like this person to be visible to us swimmers, to see them on the pool deck and to have them address areas for improvement or solve problems quickly and efficiently.

In addition to this, one of the major disappointments has been the lack of communication to the swimmers. Since the Games, I have not been approached by the Review Panel. As swimmers, we were asked to do a Skype call with a Canadian psychologist to pass on our thoughts. I was told this feedback would be communicated back to the Review Panel, however I don’t know if this happened. Nor was I asked for any further feedback. It’s just disappointing and sad that the Review Panel did not engage the swimmers in any depth.

To anyone who believes I undertook too many commercial/media commitments, let me just say that I did very, very few in comparison to other Olympic athletes. This was a deliberate plan, so that I had no distractions to my preparations. I had five commitments from our Olympic Trials to the Olympic Games. Let me put it this way, I never missed a swim session.

There are many issues – some big, some small – within British Swimming. However, I believe we did have a good Olympics. We might not have hit our medal target, but the positives include;

GB had the highest number of finalists ever at an Olympic Games (23)
Half of GB’s finalists finished in the top five
GB was one of only three nations to place teams in five of the six relay finals
GB was one of only two nations to place swimmers in the top five of both Open Water events
Aside from the three medals there were 20 fourth to eighth places

I love swimming and I’m very passionate about it. I would love to see the sport’s success grow further over the next few years and beyond. I would love to see a future where the swimmers get a chance to voice their concerns and issues and be heard.

I welcome David Sparkes’, British Swimming CEO, offer to meet in the near future to discuss my concerns directly with him. As I said, it’s not about blame, it’s about passion for swimming.

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