New Swimming Australia Four-Year Plan Includes Later Selection Trials

Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Swimming in Australia has a proud and rich record in the archives of Australia’s Olympic history.

The Australian Dolphins Swim team have worked hard to be a team the nation is proud of and in victory and defeat they have supported each other.

Swimming Australia President John Bertrand AO said the Dolphins had contributed greatly to Australian Sport.

“The Australian Swim Team has always been so consistent as a high performing sport on the international stage. The Dolphins have a proud history and a strong reputation and I believe we can be even stronger,” Bertrand said.

“What we know is the level of competition at the Rio Olympics will be surpassed at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. History tells us that.

“So we are in the business of getting there faster than any other nation in the world. That was the focus of this review. What are the key lessons learned from Rio and how we apply them going forward.”

The last four years has seen significant change as the sport re-built its culture and made significant progress, moving up the international ranks, ensuring the Dolphins are a team Australia can be proud of both in and out of the water.

Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson said this post-Rio review process was about building on the progress that we had already made.

“We can and will learn from our Rio experiences,” Anderson said.

“We will build on the progress we have made and what was evident in Rio, both successes missed opportunities.

“The Dolphins went from seventh on the swimming medal tally in London, to second in Rio 2016, as a result of the three gold medals won by Mack Horton, Kyle Chalmers and our women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team, Cate and Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon and Brittany Elmslie.

“Medalling in five of the six relay events displayed the depth of the team and this is exciting moving forward. We know that we have the talent to challenge the world again in Tokyo 2020.

“Now, the time is right to take the next steps and this review is part of that process for in this next Olympic cycle.”

And following an extensive post-Olympic review and in keeping with its determination to improve its international status, Swimming Australia has today unveiled a four-year strategic plan as it prepares for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

One of the biggest changes will see a significant evolution to the Podium Centre Program, including a reduction from 14 down to nine Swimming Australia supported ‘High Performance Centres’.

With a reduction in the number of supported centres, high performance funding will go further and the standard of the daily performance environment for athletes and coaches will increase, as will the expectation on the centres.

A key change is the decision to shift Selection Trials events closer to the Benchmark Events such as the FINA World Championships and Olympic Games.

Australia’s National Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren admitted the Trials shift would be one of the key changes to emerge from the review and a change that would “resonate throughout the swimming community.”

“Our rationale behind the Trials shift is to create ‘more and significant competition’ leading into our Benchmark Events,” Verhaeren said.

The key factor in achieving this change is the support of our State Swimming Associations, and the scheduling of their state championship events in-line with benchmark Selection Trial events, 5 weeks from competition.

“This change will result in consistent racing in the months leading up to trials. Our system has been structured around the southern hemisphere summer, we now have facilities in warmer places and are able to host our trials closer to the Benchmark Events which are typically during a Northern Hemisphere summer.

“The majority of coaches and the people from within the system are actually very supportive, otherwise we would not have been able to achieve it, all these decisions have been made in close consultation with the coaches and that’s how it should be.”

There will also be the:

  • Implementation of the Australian Swimming Framework (ASF) that will see Swimming Australia develop, apply and measure its high performance system against a national technical direction. This framework will see the evolution of the Podium Centre Program to, Swimming Australia supported ‘High Performance Centres’
  • Increase of the roles of the State Swimming Associations (SSAs) in high performance swimming.
  • Confirmation of four State Head Coaches who will join forces under National Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren in a Coach Leadership Team.
  • Establishment of a National Transition Program at the National Training Centre/Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
  • Decision to seek warmer climate venues in the lead up to Benchmark Events.

Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson added, “We are looking forward to this next phase in our high performance evolution.”

“We have made considerable progress, both as an organisation and as an internationally competitive and respected team and importantly we have major alignment right across our sport.

“But we are far from satisfied. We always planned to make further changes in this Olympic cycle and the review has identified further changes that we need to make to ensure that we continue to progress and achieve excellence.

“We are united in delivering this next phase of improvement leading into the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“We have the right people in the right roles and with all the key individuals in place at the start of the Olympic and Paralympic cycle, and just over 12 months out from the Commonwealth Games, we will be well placed to take the next required step to deliver on our goals,” Anderson said.

Press release courtesy on Swimming Australia. For more details about Swimming Australia’s new four-year plan, click here.

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Richard Allen
7 years ago

Is this early selection so we get the taper right? Only question is ‘why do other successful programs trial late ..leaving the taper only for the Olympics? After last Olympics we blamed coaches for not and athletes with too much social media resulting in the dumping of all the seasoned coaches and even bringing in a genius outsider to lead the program ..hmmm, that didn’t work, so now let’s blame the selection schedule and swimming late at night. What’s next, ugly uniforms?!

7 years ago

Somewhat of a mis-statement with the title of this article when the fact is that this is a move to LATER selection Trials rather than earlier.

The move, in itself definitely a correct one, should NOT be seen as a fix-all solution and it will take a year or so to “iron out” any issues. With the fact of its geographic location in the Southern Hemisphere with seasons opposite to the overwhelming majority of its key competition, AUS Swimming will need to move the entire AUS LC competition season away from its traditional AUS summer/autumn to what will be winter to work in with this move of Trials.

Whilst I’ve read this will all be rolled out in 2018, I’m not certain that this will be the case unless they’ve decided to make the potentially controversial (albeit correct) move of prioritising Pan Pacs (Tokyo in Aug) ahead of the farcical CommGames at home in April. The earlier this DOES roll-out the better but will this be the case ?

Whilst this move SHOULD minimise the traditional issue of swimmers having to go through 2 full preparations; there still needs to be some major cultural shifts in the attitude towards racing of both swimmers and coaches who for the most part still remain insulated in the insular “bubble” of “the Australian way” of doing things.

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