Legendary Coach Bill Sweetenham Shares His Wealth of Knowledge On Inside With Brett Hawke Podcast

bill-sweetenham
Bill Sweetenham - Photo Courtesy: Wayne Goldsmith

Legendary Coach Bill Sweetenham Shares His Wealth of Knowledge On Inside With Brett Hawke Podcast

Hall of Fame coach Bill Sweetenham sat down with Brett Hawke on his podcast to talk about the life of the late Nort Thornton and what he learned from him in his career. Sweetenham is one of the living legends in the sport of swimming as the 71-year-old coached names like Rob Woodhouse and Tracey Wickham in the 80s.

Sweetenham detailed how he built his way to become an Olympic coach (6:40) as well as how he landed with Stephen Holland in Carina (9:00) in 1975 at age 25, which became the number two club in Australia. Holland was Sweetenham’s first Olympic medalist he coached and he said he had an athlete reach the podium at every Olympics since.

Bill Sweetenham explained how he gained information in the early pre-internet days (12:30), as well as who he learned from, calling himself a “thief of information” in that time. He also went over what he has learned from his athletes since they retired and how important he believes it is to talk to his athletes constantly.

Sweetenham went over how he came about in developing the Australian Institute of Sport (23:00) after the 1976 Olympics, which helped sprout other similar sporting academies across the country. After issues with bureaucrats at the AIS, Sweetenham moved to Hong Kong in 1991 where he was the head coach at the Hong Kong Sport Institute for four years.

Bill Sweetenham also went over his relationship with the late Don Talbot (33:00), who was the national team coach for a number of years in the 1990s and 2000s. He also explained whether there was a limit to human potential in the sport of swimming (43:00) and why specialization is key in the sport (48:00).

Sweetenham also explained how he landed with British Swimming in 2000 (51:00) and how he saw results during his seven year tenure at the helm, bringing a wealth of young coaches like Sean Kelly, Ben Titley and Dave McNulty and why he trusted them in the process. Only one of them is still involved with British Swimming, but Kelly and Titley have seen tremendous success internationally. Sweetenham talked about how he wanted to bring British Swimming to be the third best swimming nation in the world, which he achieved at the 2008 Olympics.

Bill Sweetenham was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an honor coach in 2018.

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