The Week That Was: Rohan Taylor Appointed as Swimming Australia National Team Coach

Rohan Taylor with Jacco 2
Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

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The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

There was big news in the land down under as Rohan Taylor was officially appointed as the national team coach for Swimming Australia, taking over for outgoing coach Jacco Verhaeren, who had been at the helm since 2014. Taylor has been a successful coach in Australia, most notably leading Leisel Jones to an Olympic gold in the 100 breaststroke in 2008.

South of Australia, Swimming New Zealand announced a return to the pool with no COVID restrictions since there have been no new cases reported in quite some time.

Meanwhile in the United States, swimmers Simone ManuelGiles Smith and Reece Whitley used their voices to call for solidarity in the wake of the death of George Floyd, which has caused outrage all across the United States.

Read below the five biggest stories in The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Week That Was #5: Dean Farris to Return to Harvard After Olympic Redshirt


Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

By Andy Ross

Harvard’s Dean Farris will be back in Cambridge this fall after taking an Olympic redshirt year that was disrupted by the COVID-19 cancellations. Farris, who was training down in Austin, Texas this past season under legendary coach Eddie Reese, will be swimming for Harvard this coming season in what will be his official senior season, the school confirmed to Swimming World.

Farris had a tremendous junior season for the Crimson in 2019, taking home NCAA titles in the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle, as well as setting an American record in the 200 freestyle. These efforts helped Harvard finish eighth as a team, their highest finish since 1964. Dean Farris also won the Crimson’s first NCAA swimming title since Olympic medalist David Berkoff won the 100 back in 1988.

#4: Reece Whitley Urges Actions Over Words in USA


Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

By Dan D’Addona

Reece Whitley took to social media to urge people to find ways and organizations to help — using action instead of just words to help bring people together in the wake of racial tragedies throughout the United States that have led to protests around the nation.

Silence in the face of injustice is complicity,” Reece Whitley posted on social media on Tuesday.  “The words of organizations in support of the Black community in this time of pain are more powerful than ever before.”

Whitley is an All-American swimmer at Cal and won the U.S. national championship in the 200-meter breaststroke this past summer in Palo Alto. He is one of the tallest swimmers in the world at 6 feet, 9 inches, and said having a powerful body like that can make him seem like a threat — even if he isn’t.

In the wake of recent events, I’ve had a lot of time to think about my family, and what would happen if it were me instead of my fellow brothers being murdered without hesitation. It’s undeniable that if me, a 6’9, 250 pound, dark-skinned man, was ever in the wrong place at the wrong time, fatal force would likely be brought my way. In dealing with this, it is very easy to slip into an unhealthy sense of isolation. If any brothers or sisters reading this feel a similar way, know that you aren’t alone,” Whitley wrote.

The Week That Was #3: New Zealand Returns to the Pool With No COVID Restrictions


Lewis Clareburt – Photo Courtesy: Jo Kleindl

By Dave Crampton, Swimming World Contributor

The New Zealand swimming shoal became the first among top 50 swim nations to return to standard daily pool practice, free of COVID-19 restrictions, after the Government there confirmed that there are no new or current cases of novel-coronavirus infection in the country, writes Dave Crampton.

Competition is also now possible, though the country’s borders are still closed, meaning a ban on overseas travel and easy come-and-go for those national team members based in Australia and elsewhere.

The last new case of COVID-19 in New Zealand was confirmed 17 days ago. For the past 10 days, a lone woman aged in her 50s, who lived in Auckland, was the last person in New Zealand known to be suffering from COVID-19. On Monday, health officials said, she had reported 48 hours symptom-free and was now considered recovered. It is also 41 days since the last recorded case of community transmission.

#2: Swimmers Show Solidarity With #BlackOutTuesday

In one of the biggest stories in the week that was, after a weekend filled with protests around the United States after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis after video showed his neck being held down by a police officer’s knee, swimmers are among those trying to make sure the message of racial harmony doesn’t get lost — and are spreading the word on social media with #blackouttuesday posts.

The posts have a plain photo that is the color black, and there have been thousands of those #blackouttuesday posts on social media so far today.

U.S. Olympic swimmer Simone Manuel posted the blank photo with just the #blackouttuesday hashtag. The message is simple but powerful, and is gaining more power as the posts grow by the thousands each hour. Manuel has been an active voice.

Giles Smith posted the image with his thoughts on what has happened in the U.S. lately.

Mentally the past 30 days has been nothing but draining I have seen a black man the same age as myself gunned down in a street (Ahmad Aubrey) a black woman aspiring to be a nurse shot dead ( 20 rounds fired) in her house (Breonna Taylor) and lastly the brutal killing of George Floyd an unarmed black man over a bad $20 bill by a Minneapolis police officer.
The only way to get through this systemic inequality that disproportionally impacts black men and women is with change. We need to empathize, listen and support those who don’t have a equal voice in this country.
#justiceforfloyd #justicefortaylor

The Week That Was #1: Rohan Taylor Named Australian National Team Coach


RIO GRAND: Coach Rohan Taylor with his 2016 Rio Olympians Josh Beaver, Belinda Hocking and Travis Mahoney. Photo Courtesy: Herald Sun (Aust)

By Ian Hanson

Swimming Australia has today paid tribute to its departing head coach Jacco Verhaeren who will reluctantly step aside early from his National Team duties on a day they also welcomed the appointment of Dolphins Team coach leader, respected Olympic team coach Rohan Taylor as his replacement.

Verhaeren, who steered the Australian Swim Team to the 2016 Rio Olympics, 2015, 2017 and 2019 World Championships and 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games has chosen not to extend his contract with Swimming Australia – which was due to be completed in November 2020 after the Tokyo Olympics – Verhaeren will now finish in his role at the end of September.

Taylor, the Olympic coach of gold medal swimmer Leisel Jones and former Nunawading Coaching Director, said he was honoured to take up the role guiding the Dolphins through to Tokyo.

“Firstly, I would like to thank Jacco for his friendship and leadership over the past six years. I have been privileged to work as a team coach under him for numerous campaigns and I wish him and his family all the best,” said Taylor.

“Jacco has laid the groundwork for our Olympic campaign and I have worked closely with him and our Olympic leadership team, so believe I am well placed to see those plans through and lead our team to success in Tokyo next year.

“I look forward to working with Jacco during this transition period and beginning work with our high performance programs and Swimming Australia staff as we count down to the Olympics.”

The Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.