One of America’s top swim coaches will become the head coach of the development program run by the Birmingham City Council, England.
Chris Martin, from Philadelphia, PA, is the former head coach of the USA women’s team and has numerous Olympic, Pan-Pacific and Pan-American gold among his many accomplishments. Following the granting of a work permit last week, he will take over immediately as Head Coach for the City of Birmingham Club and Swimming Development Officer for Birmingham City Council.
After the disappointment of Atlanta, British swimmers put in a respectable performance at last week’s European Championships in Seville. Birmingham’s sole representative Adam Ruckwood just missed a medal by finishing fourth in the 200m backstroke – while Jamie Salter, a graduate of the former coaching regime at City of Birmingham, anchored the 4x100m relay squad to gold.
Martin was interviewed by a panel including British Swimming’s Director of Performance Deryk Snelling during the World Swimming Coaches Conference when it took place at the NEC exhibition and conference center in Birmingham earlier this year.
Former Olympic candidate city Birmingham currently hosts more World and European sporting events than any other British city, as well as other major events including next year’s G8 Summit of World Leaders. It is a city of over a million people and Birmingham City Council is the largest metropolitan authority in Britain.
The council’s leisure department also runs the largest development programme to provide sporting opportunities for young people through schools and clubs, as well as feeding high performance squads in twelve sports.
Commenting on the new swimming appointment, Birmingham City Council’s head of sport Richard Callicott sees the hiring of such a well-respected coach as something of a coup. “I was particularly impressed with Chris’s knowledge and experience of sports science as well as his obvious track record of coaching American stars to international success,” he says. Callicott has also retained the services of Mick Hepwood, Gary Hollywood and former British Olympic medal-winner Nick Gillingham to strengthen Birmingham’s coaching squad to arguably the best in the country.
After quitting his job at the University of Florida, Chris Martin was already planning a move to Europe. “After visiting the UK in 1993-94, I was struck by the enormous potential of the city-wide swimming schemes,” he says. “My first love has always been development and the chance to head a swim program of perhaps 100,000 young people is amazing. That’s got to be a huge wealth of potential talent as we prepare for the Sydney Olympics and beyond.”
Martin says he believes swimming has peaked among existing athletes and the next wave of success can only come by extending participation into new areas. In Birmingham his role will spread from coaching the high-performance squad to giving everyone from school upwards the chance to excel.
Brief resume of Chris Martin’s career as a swimming coach so far:
Head coach of the USA Pan-Pacific Team in 1995. Prior to that he an assistant coach of the 1995 Pan-Pacific Team and the 1992 Olympics. Coached the University of Florida to 11 straight wins at the SEC Championships and two top ten places in USA Nationals. Coached Nelson Diebel to 100m breaststroke gold at the 1992 Olympics. Produced two Olympic team members during his first appointment at the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey.