PERTH, Australia, January 21. THE BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series, held last weekend in Perth, marked the first meet under a new directive banning Australian national team swimmers from interacting via social media during major competitions.
The new policy comes after a review of Australia's subpar performance at the London Olympics, where athletes were often more keen on posting on Facebook and Twitter than working on team unity and performance.
An article in the Herald News states that national team director Leigh Nugent presented the athletes at the Super Series with the new policy that forbids Tweets or other social media posts during competition.
“We've set curfews, limited use of mobile phones when we're together and told competitors to make sure they're acting in a way to try to improve the team's performance and not detract from it – and not just think about yourself,” Nugent said. “It's definitely a conscious effort.”
Nugent added that athletes have recognized the distractions that social media can create during a meet. Emily Seebohm, who won silver in the 100 backstroke after posting the fastest times in prelims and semfinals, said in the Herald Sun article that Facebook and Twitter comments from fans made her overly anxious for the final and altered her mental focus.
At the Super Series, Nugent said he noticed a more cohesive team, with athletes that actively cheered for others and went out of their way to boost team morale.
“When you go through what's been gone through, people realize they must take some responsibility about getting themselves back on track and everyone has bought into that,” he said.