Sweetenham Demands More of British Swimmers -- August 14, 2003
By Martin Perry
LONDON, August 14. BUOYED by their best ever World Championships two weeks ago, Britain's swimmers will today turn their attention to qualifying for the European Short Course Championships in Dublin in December, the last major international before next summer's Olympics in Athens.
The British Short Course Championships, which start in Stockport today, represent their only chance to qualify. Few will expect a repeat of last year, where top swimmers failed to make the team after a record-breaking Commonwealth Games.
That prompted a "motivational" talk by the performance director Bill Sweetenham who, in front of coaches and the media, branded them "arrogant" and
"self gratifying" and said their performances were
"I don't think there'll be a repeat of last time," he said. "If there is, I'll be on their case and demanding to know what went wrong," he said. "I
had my little motivational talk after last year's championships and I think everyone got the message. After a major competition, they have to get back
in and perform. I want to be in everyone's face every day up until the Olympics."
A record eight medals saw Britain finish sixth overall at the World Championships in Barcelona, with James Gibson winning their first gold medal in 28 years in the 50m breaststroke and Katy Sexton becoming Britain's first female World Champion after her 200m backstroke victory.
Despite their success the troubleshooter recruited from Australia three years ago maintains that much more needs to be done if Britain wishes to make an impact in Athens.
"It was a good summer for British swimming, but at the World Championships there were areas where we didn't even go close to perfection.
"It's the Olympics next year and we have to perform. World standards dictate that we have no other choice. No-one will wait for us."
As many as 70 could be named in the British squad for Dublin, with three senior swimmers selected in each Olympic event and one additional place going to any juniors who make the grade.
"I want to introduce some of our juniors because we've got an aging British senior team and a lot of retirements after the Olympics," he said.
"The juniors are the future and some of those who perform here should make the Olympics. For everyone, this will be the final evaluation of our summer
season and the initial evaluation of our Olympic preparation. We'll see how people have coped."