AUCKLAND, New Zealand, January 29. BILL Sweetenham, who has helped swimmers in Australia and Great Britain to various international medal podiums in more than a decade, will try to do the same for New Zealand swimmers in a monthlong stint announced today.
Sweetenham will begin his duties as interim high performance director on February 8 and will remain through the New Zealand national championships. Swimming New Zealand has been working to find a replacement national high performance director after the surprising resignations of Mark Regan and Scott Talbot.
Sweetenham is most known for ushering Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett through the age group system to elite status in his time as Australia's national youth coach from 1995 to 2000. After that, he headed to Great Britain, where he helped boost the country's swimming status until 2007 as national team director. Sweetenham left the position a year before the end of his contract for personal reasons.
“It is important to have a coach who understands the swimmers, the country and what is ahead of them,” said Swimming New Zealand acting CEO, Mark O'Connor. “Bill is one of the most credentialed swimming coaches in the history of the sport and we are pleased he is stepping in to help us out.”
New Zealand's swimming program has been in upheaval for about two years, since swimmers complained of a lack of interest from administration, as well as a subpar performance from some of the country's top swimmers. Recently, the federation was the subject of a major performance review, causing vacancies at the top of the administrative ladder.
In the meantime, New Zealander Lauren Boyle has done much to increase New Zealand's global exposure, with a fourth-place finish in the 800 free at the London Olympics and gold in the same event at last month's short course world championships. Glenn Snyders, now training at Trojan Swim Club, could be in the medal hunt in the breaststroke events at this summer's world championships.