The Australian Program to Develop the Future by Bill Sweetenham (2001)


Thank you for coming and it is certainly my pleasure to be here I feel sorry for you having to listen to me twice in two days, for those of who came to my lecture yesterday, so hopefully I won’t cover too much of what I covered yesterday, but just a brief outline of the job that I did with the Australian swimming I was recruited back to Australia from Hong Kong to be the national youth coach.  The national youth coach was basically to work with the swimmers in Australia, most of the club in the states who were eighteen years of age and younger and who were our best swimming talent, and my job was basically to have better prepared athletes moving into the national team and it meant that every swimmer that moved from the age or youth program up to the national team Don Talbot would evaluate and give me feedback on how they fit it into the team and he would also talk to me about the strengths and weaknesses of the national team and the weaknesses that he felt were inherit in the national team, it was then my job to make sure that the next group of athletes that came through didn’t have those weaknesses.  So if he felt the kind of group of senior athletes on the Australian team were weak in any areas, he highlighted those to me and then I made sure that through the state camps and we had two state camps every year in each state in Australia where I would attend one and then they would run one without me and we had two national camps each year, one for the age and one for the youth and we had about four or five event camps and our event camps were basically three camps.  We had a racing simulator camp, the idea of the racing simulator camp was for instance, while the Sydney Olympics were in progress we would put our next group of athletes that we felt were going to the next Olympic team together in another location and live the Olympics with that group of athletes they would eat, sleep the same regime as what was happening at the Olympics and they would walk and do the exercise, compete heats and finals, it would be just a complete duplication of what was going to happen at the next Olympics but more difficult, it was my job to make the athletes progress from the rank of age group swimmer to youth swimmer to the national team as difficult as possible, it was my job to make their transition from the youth program into the national team as difficult as possible.  But when they fell down it was my job to pick them up, dust them off and push them back in and say keep going, here is where you went wrong and this is what you need to do.  So it wasn’t my job to support those swimmers and help them and make it easy for them to move in to that national team it was to make it difficult.  So we had three national camps each year, racing simulator camp which they lived the event, whatever that event was that year.  We had a training camp which was training three times a day and that was as hard as we could make it and the third camp was a preparation camp where they would have to swim a meet at the end of the week and the idea being that they would train hard all week and have to stand up and we would put them into teams of three and they would have to swim off 6000 points on the international point score and the winning team would be recognized so there was a lot of things happening at those camps to really challenge the athlete and the coach to make it difficult as possible and it was also my job to go out and visit the program, the club and the coach in the home program and have an idea of what the difficulties were for that coach in their club program and try and help them source whatever they needed, parent support, pool space support whatever it was my job was to source and recruit support for that program and in my club visits I would talk to the parents, I’d talk to the swimmers, I would talk to the coaches, do whatever what was required to take that program another step forward, so it was two things that I was judged on.


Having better prepared athletes, if I sent a swimmer to the national team and they weren’t better prepared then every other swimmer on the national team then I was disappointed and I would get feedback on each individual from Talbot on how he thought that swimmer would come into the team and it was the same with the coach.  If we had a rookie coach that was going to make it onto the national staff, it was my job to make sure that, that coach was better prepared, better organized and knew what was a head of them and have them ready to handle whatever it was going to take, as a result Don on two occasions, the Olympics was one of them the world championship short course before that, had said that he had a delegation of senior athletes confront him at the major meets and express that the senior athletes were concerned that the young rookie swimmers on the team didn’t show respect for the senior athletes and he had to sit there he said, just grinning to himself and feeling good about it, that here there were athletes coming on to the team and providing leadership to the athletes that were already on the team, the established athletes, that the young athletes coming on to the team were setting higher standards then the athletes that were currently on the national team, so I have to have better prepared athletes and better prepared coaches, and they were basically the two things that my job was structured around.  But to facilitate that there was a lot of other things involved, for instance my last year, or in the last two years in the position I spent well in excess of 250 days on the road, I spent more than 30 weekends away on the road and it was a huge commitment to be in club programs probably about 70 to 80 clubs each year I would spend more than 2 to 3 days in, when I would go into a club program I would look at everything that was happening in the club program and I would want to see the coaches log book, want to see their attendance chart, I want to see the club structure and I would challenge the coach, why are you doing this, why aren’t you doing that, what about this, have you thought about that, have you tried that, think about this, I would watch the coach work with the athletes talk with the athletes, and be in the face of the coach but in a very supportive way, and I got certainly more requests to go to clubs that I could go, and sometimes I would take a strength and conditioning coach with me to evaluate the strength and conditioning program of the club or I would take an exercise physiologist with me sports type person to evaluate the program from a sports science provision point of view, so it was a fairly intensive evaluation of a club that I would go in and work with and I said I would work with coaches, parents and swimmers the coach would brief me before I would arrive at the club on what they thought what was required for the club to be run, I would evaluate it and on my last session there I’d try and address the league.  So I could say things to the parents and the officials of the club that was difficult for the coach to say and it was easy for me to come in and address problems or areas the coach was having difficulty with and I could fix up.  So it was pretty much troubleshooting but on a positive side when I went into the clubs.


One of the important things that I was talking about this morning when I was trying to present, and I listened to some of the coaches, I wonder what in 300 years time or 400 years time they will look back on this last 100 years of life on earth and what would be the remembrance, how will I remember this last 100 years.  In the evolution of history what will this last 100 years be remembered for?  So I thought what are all the great things that have happened in the last 100 years.  And, after a lot of evaluation, I want you to think about this, the only true invention in the last 100 years, the only true invention that wasn’t a copy was plastic, that is the only true invention that we have had in this last 100 years, everything else has been a copy.  So it is always a challenge to try and be innovative in your coaching.  If you look at your, we will come to the handouts later, if you looked at my lecture the other day, I asked coach Hannula to do an evaluation for me on my presentation and his evaluation basically said that I got good marks from him in the content of the lecture and my presentation of the lecture, but I got lousy marks from my math because apparently I put up a formula and instead of dividing by 5 for 20 meter sprints I divided by 4 and 455 I came up with 11.  I apologize if anyone didn’t work that out I worked on a 20 meter rather than 25 meter evaluation.  So Dick was pretty critical of me.  I guess swim coaching, everybody else had the good manners not to say anything, and it was appreciated.  Swim coaching I think is a great profession and I think we are so blessed and so lucky that we have so many diverse people come into our coaching fraternity, we have people from stock brokering, from computers, we have people from all types of backgrounds that take up swim coaching, if you took 100 coaches, each one of them would have some different background and some different skills, and I think that we are just lucky that we have a sport where that happens.


Well anyway, Dick is not here, Coach Hannula is not here so I can pick on him now, those who don’t know that Dick Hannula had came from a very diverse background he actually trained as an astronaut when he trained as an astronaut they had to train a chimp a monkey to go with him on the space shuttle, so after 12 months of preparation and training they both passed, the chimp with a little bit more credibility then Dick but they both past, and they said, well you fly off on Saturday and when you get on the space shuttle they’ll be a book instructions beside each one of you the chimp will have their instructions and Dick you will have yours and Dick you are to open your instruction manual at 150,000 feet and the chimp will open his instructions at 80,000 feet, so off they flew, and so at 80,000 feet the light came on for the chimp to look at the instructions and it basically said check all the booster rockets, put it on manual, check all the gauges, make sure the fuel, pressure gauges, oil, everything is right, do all the checks, the pre-flight checks and quite a few more detailed instructions and Dick watched this with great interest and then at 150,000 feet his light came on to read his instruction manual and he opened the manual and it said feed the chimp.  So you have got to know your strength and weaknesses in coaching.  I’m lucky, as a coach that I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of great coaches, and some of them I’ve pursued to work with and others it has just been coincidence, but I think for me working with a lot of great coaches it has given me a great background and I’ve worked with Dennis Pursley when he came out and he instituted a sport in camera, Don Forbes, Dick and Nort Thornton and a great range of coaches, both from this country and from around the world and I think if you can take something from all the different coaches that you work with and get to meet and deal with it is hard to gather a whole range of tools and skills that you can, I was fortunate in some ways but unfortunate in others that in 30 years of age I was the head coach in Australian swimming and thought I knew it all and probably found out that there were a couple of things that I didn’t and I had a lot of trial and error, and not a good way to coach you want to have trial and success, so try and fast track as much knowledge as you can and as I said my job as national youth coach was to fast track knowledge and to experience to coaches without them having to live through a life time of opportunity and so by the time that they were fully skilled and if you look at the average age of coaches of Olympic gold medallist it ranges from somewhere between 55 to 65 years of age, there are exceptions but not many, so I don’t think any of you want to stay in the sport until you are 55 to 65 to coach at your best, so my job was to try and fast track that information, in the last panel they talked, the coaches talked about media and sponsorships.


I think sponsorship is the great thing that we have to pursue and ten years ago in Australian swimming the time slot for television for swimming was about 11:00 at night and it was on the BVC or the ABC the government television during the world championships that have just gone, on any one of the eight consecutive nights, television of the world championships went live to A at 7:30 in Australia on channel 9 at any one night of those 8 nights swimming had the largest television audience of any sporting event ever in the history of Australia, 7:30 prime time, 900,000 in Sydney, 800,000 in Melbourne had way ahead of the Olympics, way ahead of the football grand finals, in the state of Oregon football series and it went prime time in any one of eight nights was the largest television audience of any sporting event in the history of Australia, so I think you have to pursue that, no one in Australian swimming would have thought that possible I mean no one.


So things can happen and I think it’s important, to pursue that because that is what brings in sponsors.  One of the things that I forgot to mention yesterday as well was that women distance swimmers should not over kick that Forbes kind of reminded me of it at the end of the lecture, and one of the great faults I think in distance swimming for females has been that they have over kicked.  O.K. I said I would put a lactate removal setup and talk about a lactate removal it’s basically on the Bob Prevene philosophy I’ve used a very simple example of thirty times 100 on 1:45, basically you are working somewhere between 30 to40 minutes work in a 40 to 50 minute period.  So it is 30 to 40 minutes of exercise in a 40 to 50 minute period where the first three to four repeats will be done somewhere close to 200 meter pace not faster, but certainly faster than 400 meter pace, you have to know your athlete but you want it to be faster than 400 meter pace and slower than 200 meter pace, from then on the next 20 to 24 repetitions where the men will hold 20 to 25 beats below maximum and the women will hold 15 to 20 beats below maximum and will tend to hold the rest cycle where the men if they find difficulty you tend to blow out the rest cycle to maybe two minutes the turnover time and at the back-end the last few 100′ three to four 100’s will be done at race pace, whatever the race pace may be, the athlete that you are trying to coach and at the very end of the set after a couple of minutes rest they will pursue an over distance repeat of somewhere between 800 and 1600 meters depending on what event they are swimming where that will be a descending set so the idea being that the over distance set at the back-end will probably start off at 50 beats below max and then slowly build up in intensity and finish with a couple of 100’s back of that 20 to 30 beats below maximum, if you do in my opinion the 30 100’s or the 3,000 meters, in a 40 if you go 4,000 meters you will do it in a 60 minute period, if you go 3,000 meters you will do it in a 40 minute period and if you do that without doing those fast repeats at the start or the over distance swim at the end I don’t think you get anywhere near the same benefit from the lactate removal set so I just assumed yesterday in my lecture that everybody understood what a lactate removal set was.


O.K. we talked about a few things in that last panel that I want to address that I think are important first of all when I go to a swimming program to evaluate it as a club program I look at the 13 to 15 year old athletes, and if the coach is training the male and female swimmers on the same training program I know I’m viewing a lousy program.  If I go to a program and the coaching program is treating the 13 to 15 year old male and female swimmers with the same training program I know I’m dealing with a lousy program and I would certainly want to address that.  There is tremendous studies for those who are involved in the education area that says that single sexed schools either male or female people excel in a single sex school way above a combined school.  The requirements of an athlete of maturation a male at 13 and a female at 13 physically have very little in common and certainly mentally are very, very different, so the male stimulus must be different and must be addressed differently and the physical demand must be addressed differently in terms of the sets, the rest period, the recovery period and as a coach so I asked coaches, how often do you bring your males and just have a workout with your males, how often do you bring your females in, how often do you go to a meet and just take the male swimmers, I relate it to race horse training, how many horse race trainers do you know that take the whole stable of horses to every single race meeting, none, it’s horses for courses, so sometimes you go to a swim meet and you only take your breaststrokers, sometimes only your backstrokers, sometimes only your males, sometimes only your females when you take the males to as swim meet, the chances are you swim the meet and then after the meet play golf, play basketball do something male.  If you take the females to a swim meet at the end of the meet go shopping, do something that the females like to do, then you will build a structure a social structure in your program that addresses the needs of both sex.  The males will see that they are getting something out of it, basically, if I’m coaching a group of swimmers and I walk out in the road and get run over, dead, believe it or not the females in my training group will love me, and they will grieve for maybe a month of two months and feel very effected emotionally, the males will grieve for about two minutes, they will say well we didn’t like him anyway whose next.  That is fact, fact of life, an absolute fact of life and that is how it is, males train in your program because of the comradely, the challenge, the females train in your program because they like you and they like the social structure that is in the program, and if you don’t have a social structure that enhances the things that females are chasing and pursuing in their young life it won’t happen, you will become a male coaches or a female coach, or you will lose everybody, you will be middle of the road, and you won’t address the needs of either one and you will lose everybody at 16, they will all fall out, or just the star will stay in the program.


O.K. baseball caps, one of my pet hates at the camps I used to run in Australia and I have a son that does this.  Walk around like that, usually their pants hanging down around their backside and big boots that are three times too big and this used to annoy me, they would sit in my talks with the hats like that, so I got them all one day, all the guys and I said listen fellows that is how you where a baseball cap, do you understand how this came about?  They said yes, it started to come about in baseball in America from the catcher and I said well it’s close, it came about in America on 42nd street in New York because all the male prostitutes used to wear their caps like this, but when they wanted to have oral sex with their buddies, this got in the way so they had to turn it around.  So immediately, I got everybody wearing his or her hats.  So I just said to the guys listen, if you come into my meetings like this I know your ready.  Funny part is most of them believed it, so but anyway, one of the things that I would look for in the clubs that I would visit and I would challenge the coaches in the performances, is that, we are doing this in Great Britain now and I think it worked really well that every competition that we had the coach I identified coaches format, we’ve got a computer program that prints off those swimmers that swim heats within three percent of their best time as a worst case scenario.  Two percent of their best time in the semi-final and within one percent of their best time in a final.  So whatever swim meet we would go to and they still do this in Australia, and I introduced it and I’ve introduced it in Great Britain, any national team or club team that went over seas or swam out in national or major championships at the end of it the coach would get a printout to say you swimmers were in within three percent of their best time in their heats and within two percent of their best time in the semi’s and one percent of their best time in the final and one percent of their best time in their relay performances, and we would evaluate the club and the program based on that because it was based on PB’s rather than medals and it also showed which swimmers didn’t make finals and what percentage didn’t make finals and what percentage swam slow in the heats and just saved themselves for the finals so every coach got a report of their athletes performances in any given meet based on a three percent in the heats and two percent in the semi finals, one percent in the final and one percent in the semi, also we had a policy with all the clubs and I would go and talk to the coaches that we wanted them to participate in meets based on a three, two, one, so


So, what is your name? Todd, if I was coaching Todd I would want him to compete in the three, two, one, basis, I would want him to compete in three meets at his level of proficiency that is where he would make a final, a good chance at a medal and in the same ratio I want him to swim in two meets right, or below his standard where he could win, he would go to meets where he was the star, I taught him to win, and at those meets where I knew he could win, I would put pressure on him to do things right, I want to experiment to go out too fast, try a negative split a bit more, work your turns, those two below his standard is where I would be as critical as hell on him nothing he could do would be good enough, I mean nothing I would just be in his face, this is not good enough, you should have done better at that, you should have, and then I would take him to a meet where he was out of depth, right out of his depth, if he was a backstroker, I might make him swim the freestyle or the butterfly events, or I might take him and put him above his age group, you know, and I would put him in the most difficult situation as possible and I would only give him one event at that meet, but at that event I would heap praise on him like you won’t believe, because I would want the young athlete to learn that when faced with the ultimate challenge, you were on this side, you were supporting them and that they would go into it knowing that you were going to be there with them and going to give them great praise and admire their efforts faced with the ultimate challenge.  When they swam three at the level of proficiency you will critic and you’ll praise but not too much praise, when they swim two below you will be critical as hell you just want perfection you expect for them to do everything 100% right.  So we put in the three, two, one, three up, two below, one above and we also looked at the athletes improving at 3% per year, so this 3% is very important to us and we identified all the talent in Australian swimming starting at 13 years of age, it was like the corridor of opportunity that you weren’t going to America, we would have all of our 13 year olds at 83% of the current world record and we would do a graphic going at 3% per year improvement so at 14 it was 86% and at 15 it was 89% it would also do that on the national record and we would find the talent that was between 83% of the current world record and 83% of our national world record of 13 improving at 3% per year so we would want the national record to be heading toward the world record and not moving away from it and we would want to trap the talent in that area and that is the talent and the club that I would work with I would be out into those programs frequently and the more remote the club the more I would try and tap into that athlete.


If for instance we found that coach Todd here, had a super young athlete at 14 years of age, just right up there and we would look at Todd, don’t take this personally Todd and look at Todd and say Hell he is a super athlete, can the coach take him all the way and if the answer was no then my job was to make sure that I got to Todd and provided him with the experience that he was going to need to care and cater and nurture that young athlete.  I didn’t want an athlete and neither did the program want an athlete isolated where the talent of the athlete was ahead of the experience of the coach, so then it was my job to get to the coach and make sure we fast tract knowledge to that coach so that they could handle the athlete and bring that forward, the investment was into the coach rather than the talent of the young athlete, because this guy is going to stay in the sport for a long time and may produce more.  So while we wanted to look after the athlete we did it by nurturing the talent of the coach, so there was always important that the education of the coach, any, let me tell you what happened with the most obvious athlete in Australia sport today, we found an athlete who was a backstroker at 13 years of age way above, way above, about 90% of the world record, we thought hell, this kid must be getting overworked, went and looked and the answer was no he wasn’t being overworked, when you’re a superstar.


O.K. how do we make sure that that coach is ready to handle the athlete, make sure that the coach gets into some national camps, make sure we send out information, make sure we send out all the relevant stuff from our exercise physiology area, fast track information to the coach, so that the coach can handle the athlete and we are not going to lose them, when you have a small population base, you have to make sure you don’t let anyone fall through the gap, so there are the things that we try to put into place, you have a handout there and I’ll just quickly go through it, tip top was our sponsor, we had a national camp each year where we took our best age group swimmers and our best youth swimmers and we would take them into our national camp where we would measure everything that was measurable on the athlete, we would tell them the plans, look at them bring their coaches in and work with them for a week, straight after our national age championships and finish the national age that the Australia with the camp and we would work with those athletes for a week, preparing thing for the next step, swimmers from the national age group program the tip top program on the current Olympic team we had, last year, we had 8 males, 8 females and 5 males all came through the national and state and remember Australia is an amalgamation of seven states all united by a mutual hatred for each other, alright, so we had to make sure that we went out and then did state programs so I would go and do the three national camps each year and two state camps each year, just that alone was 17 weeks a year that I have to be on the road working with the camps and the 250 days of club visits.


O.K. national open teams in the national open team in 1999 and in 2000 and this is how Don evaluated how we were going, this is how the national head coach evaluated how we were going, before we started the national youth program, our stroke rate for swimmers, rookies on the national open team was below 20 percent so in other words if the swimmer made the national open team for the first time that a less then 20 percent of swimming their personal best on the national team before we started the program.  At the Sydney Olympics in the 1999 ten pax the rookies on the team had a stroke rate which is well in excess of ninety percent PB they were more, way more than double the chance of success then and current for residence swimmer on the national team so that is how it is evaluated, coaching staff, the coaching staff and if you look at all the Australian coaches and we have the average age of the coach on the Australian swimming team is about 50/55 you got a couple that are much older and one of the concerns there is when you have an aging national coaching staff is that you have people coming through, now one of the situations which occurred in Australia, which was good we promoted all our best coaches in the country had female assistant coaches or female, Doug Frost, his assistant coach or his age group coach, Tracy Mensies, Ken Wood, Wondra Smiles, all our better coaches for one of a better word had female assistant coaches, the danger of that is of course a lot of those females don’t want to move on to be head coaches, so we have our senior elite coaches being under studied by people who are great coaches in their own right, the fact that the whole female is incidental, but they didn’t want the obligation or the commitment to move up or be head coaches of the program, their lifestyle suited them to be staying in that situation.  All of them are very capable of being head coaches in the program, but they didn’t want it, so what we had is a problem is an aging national team coaching staff underpinned by a group of females who didn’t want to work up and take the responsibilities of heading the program, so that meant that we weren’t developing coaches.


So we have identified a group of 20 coaches and my job was to make them the best coaches in the world, my job was to make sure that they could all speed read, computer literate, peripheral vision, long term memory, short term memory, all the things that aren’t in the coaching courses and take them and develop those skills so we have two clinics a year where we identify 20 coaches, young in terms of young in experience and my job after the Sydney Olympics that we had a full set of coaching staff ready to replace the senior team staff in case of retirements so that if one, any of our senior staff dropped out we could move on up and Johnny Caroo is a good example coach of Carol Perkins who got out of it, the girl that was working with him, Glenda readily was able to move up and step straight into his shoes and of a great job so that was important, the youth games in Scotland are not important, state games, I ran state camps where I worked with the clubs in the states and we were a lower level club in that situation and then the national camps and of course the select coach workshops, I’m going to take you through now some of the plans that I put into place in Great Britain and I think that will give you and I’m going to do it quickly and I’m going to go through it quickly and it will give you an idea of how I’m going to do it, some of you asked yesterday about how do I identify and come up with a maximum heart rate an individual maximum heart rate, I don’t know whether this is available with the American swim coaches, if not it could be made available, it is a very simple booklet that I put together with John and it does all the test sets that we did and it has recording charts in there as well, each swimmer on our team will have one of these and progressively they will have to do all the tests that are in there and record it and bring this to camps as with the coach, so if you want to know it is actually the third section in there page 10, tells you how to do and how to come up with accurately an individual maximum heart rate I’ll give that someone in ASKA and they could photocopy that particular page for anyone that wants that, seeing a lot of people asked me yesterday.


O.K. we’ll quickly go through it, John’s a national youth coach for British swimming I recruited him from Australia he is a Brit that was living in Australia, the greatest challenge for him now is this, if you have a look at that, tremendously hard job for him, this year Great Britain, long course have done two European eight Common Wealth and 41 British records for Great Britain open long course records is more than they’ve done accumulatively in the last five years.  The danger of it is we’ve only got six British junior records, now age group program is not working.  When the open team does 41 long course open records and the junior team only does six what does that tell you, it tells you that we are not coming through with people.  Always the British junior or the junior record should outnumber the national open records, it should never be that way, it goes the same in short course, four World, five European, three Common, 24 British and only three British records short course, if that continues we will not be successful, John must shake the trees, find some swimmers hand them to me and they must be better than the people that are already on the national team and when he delivers these coaches to me and some of them are already on the national open team and some of them I new, they must be better prepared better skilled, better educated, more motivated then any of the coaches that are currently on the national open team and if that doesn’t happen we cannot be successful and that is the same situation that we had on Australia, as a national head coach of Great Britain, I expect, demand from John swimmers that are at a higher level of preparedness when they come on to the national team, in fact better than the ones that are already there and the same with the coaching staff, that has to happen that is our only shot.


Olympic medals will be won in 2002 and 2003 too many people in sport, coach’s thing that they can get the results in the year of the Olympics, well that never happen.  Basically what swimmer’s are in the top four in the world at the end of 2003 will win the medals in 2004, swimmers that were top four in the world in 1999 in the annual world rankings were the people that won medals in Sydney there are only two exceptions and they were Italian and the situation is basically those that are in the top four in the world at the end of the last pre-Olympic year are the people that win medals it happens now.  The things that will determine success, are facilities, budget, coaching competition, reward and recognition, all of those things must be in the program, so it was my job and it is my job now to make sure that even the age group athletes are catered for with these things.


We are going to go quickly through this, facilities, in Great Britain, we have less then ten percent of the facilities of Australia, remember we are going to swim the Common Wealth games against these people next year, Great Britain, Great Britain’s ten percent of facilities cost more to hire than Australia’s 100% of their facilities, the average cost of a lane higher per hour in Great Britain is between 22 and 25 pound per hour per lane, in Australia it is some where between 4.50 and $6.00 we must have long course competitions in training Great Britain is the only country in the world that can’t conduct a training camp for national team and if we do at that cost we couldn’t afford them, so the point I’m making here is with the facilities that America has I think if you could implement some of the things that we’ve done you would have instant areas that you didn’t dream possible so certainly a challenge for us.  Now budget is a bottom line, budget people think that Great Britain are getting a lot of money for the lottery’s or the facts are we are getting more than we’ve ever got before but it is a flat line budget with costs of salaries going up, pool hire going up we are going to lose about 6% per year.  The facilities in Great Britain costs clubs as well as the national program an awful lot of money 45% of all our budget goes to hire a facilities.  The message that I get from government of the national body, Bill we want you to win the race but in no way can you have the fastest car, and definitely no pit crew, but we can do well and we can be successful, what works for minor sports does not work for major sports it is completely different, without a major sponsor GB Great Britain cannot continue to improve in the rate that it has gone, at the Sydney Olympics Great Britain has won no medals, had a 13 PB stroke rate, the world championships we had 7 medals and our PB stroke rate was the best of any country in the world in finals but we got to take it further, we can’t keep doing what we’ve done in the past, the definition of frustration is doing the same thing repeatedly over and over again, hoping for a better result each time you do it, if you want to improve you must make change and it must be efficient change.


My target in Great Britain is the same target in Australia, one you must have the worlds best competition calendar, too many swimmers want to way over compete and under train, if you provide the competition your responsible for either over exposure or under exposure to it.  So the person responsible for the swimmers over competing or under competing are the people that do the competition calendar, if your competition is not right you can’t produce athletes, you won’t produce athletes it can’t happen, you have to have the world’s best coaches, in Great Britain we haven’t got the facilities.


I can develop great coaches, if you have great facilities and a tremendous budget but weak coaches and a weak competition you can’t be successful, you can have a lousy budget, lousy facilities but if you have a great competition calendar and great coaches where you nurture and develop coaches, the depth of any countries performance is in the depth of it’s coaching knowledge and experience, so we want the worlds best coaches, we want long course training capability, we want accountability because we give out a lot of money, we have ten premier clubs in Great Britain, the number one club gets 70,000 pound a year from us and the bottom club gets 20,000 pound a year.  Alright from the national body to prepare their swimmers and to put them on the national team, top 20, age group programs get 10,000 pound a year to produce age group results that they are fed through, when you hand out money you take money there is accountability for performance.  But we need a major sponsor, these are the same things that we went through in Australia when we started off, coaches, we want all our coaches, Great Britain without exception has the worst last seen accreditation of coaches in the world, no one is worst then we are and we are encouraging all our members to be members of the coaches association, a strong coaches association can make improvements, we have to have the best coaches in the world by 2003.  If I can achieve that Great Britain will be successful, if I can’t achieve that we’ll fail.  Coaching, we need a new accreditation to the coaching system, it must be based on theory, coaches learning the education part, practical providing opportunities for coaches to come and be involved at national camps, state camps and international camps, camps must be the area to develop national coaching strengths we have seven national event coaches, we have a national event coach in butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, spring and IM.


Alright, so we have seven national coaching staff, national event coaches, it is the butterfly coaches responsibility to run camps for the butterflyers both age and open and to advise me of what it is going to take for Great Britain to lead the world in the development of butterfly swimming and identify talent in those areas and each coach has the same responsibilities.  We have a myself as a national performance director a men’s and women’s coach to look after men’s and women’s swimming across that way and seven event coaches to make sure we are finding every possible bit of talent and then getting it into our camps and getting it developed through the system without over or under exposure.  We must have a coaching moral that is practiced and perfected, expert coaching with minimum budget and lack of facilities can be successful at the world level but only with a limited number of swimmers we can only do it with a limited number we can’t do it with large numbers, but you can be successful, if you put resources into identified select individuals, you can be successful.


O.K. this is the one that is the most interesting for you because I’ve talked to a couple of coaches about it, our national calendar I think is quite innovative, it’s certainly a huge change, it was a massive change for the coaches in Great Britain they have addressed it well it’s worked this year and it will continue to work we hope.  First of all in January and February each year in Great Britain we are going to have a competition free training period, for January and February, we are going to run no competitions, the sprint people will have January and February without competition but train only and compete in March and our national championships are in April, our distance swimmers will compete in January but have not competition in February and in March.  Our selection trials, their first selection trials will be in April where we hopefully will select the distance type people who will have a long period of preparation and we will give further opportunities to our sprinters closer to the meet, so in April we will have our trials straight after our trials we will have an orientation camp, where we put everybody together, one of the great things that America has over the rest of the world is every swimmer in America has two or three coaches, college coach, club coach and so on down, in most other places in the world a coach and a swimmer never get to experience other opportunities, it’s a one on one situation.


I think that is a great advantage that you guys have got that the rest of the world hasn’t addressed, so an orientation camp I want every swimmer on the national team to be able to train and work and affiliate with every single coach on the national team, so that if a coach doesn’t make the tour they are more used to working with another coach, or they are used to working with another coach equally as well as their own personal coach, so there is a great opportunity there, so all our trials for major meets between now and the Athens Olympics will be a fifteen week cycle, every time the coach prepares an athlete they will know that they have fifteen weeks, I have two months competition free to get the training done, trials fifteen week preparation, so basically every preparation that we do between now and Athens will be fifteen weeks long, we believe that we have something special there, because Australia can’t do that sometimes it is a 20 week preparation sometimes its 8 sometimes 6 I want a standard preparation every time we prepare for a major meet.


Basically it’s split up so that every three weeks we have a long course training camp and a long course competition, at the end of every three weeks we have a long course competition followed by a long course training camp leading into the meet, as we get close to the meet all our staging camps will be ten days long, 13 days out of the meet we’ll go in and have a ten day camp somewhere, three days in the village, compete and then we will swim the competition, but we will do two follow up competitions, this year we swam the world championships in Japan, the day after Japan we got in a plane flew to Perth and Australia swam the national championships, that night at midnight after five days of competition they got on a plane flew back to England, bus met him at the airport took them up to Northridge and they swam their national selection trials that same day, tough athletes, touch coaches, no compromise do it or die, sudden death.


O.K., our camps are split up our first camp is an orientation camp our second camp is a national event camp where we incorporate the best senior athletes with the best junior athletes we want the athletes to learn from the best, most countries have development camps where they take just the developing swimmers away and all of the developing swimmers do is learn bad mistakes off of each other.  If you take the best people in your senior and then you put your best juniors with them they learn good habits, if you take your national team, which probably has thirty percent of a negative force in there and you switch your juniors with them they learn the 30% negative force, eliminate your 30% negative force and put your best people with them, so the national event camps is 50% juniors, 50% seniors, so good to good to learn the good traits.


The next one is the men and women’s camp where we just have men and women separate and we address individual needs between men’s swimming and women’s swimming.  O.K. that is pretty much it, next one, I’ve got to hit the John here I’m trying to go through these quickly, basically we have three week modules and a coach can address that three week module in any isolation so a coach can have basically a three week module that they can look at.  Our competition plan is two months competition free, 15 week cycle to a major meet, straight away a selection trials to the short course at the end of August, we have European short course where we take our best seniors and our best juniors and at the end of the year December and January we want our athletes competing twice a week every week for at least three to four weeks, where the athlete competes and the coaches fixes their technique up and they compete again and a over exposure to competition, so there is four periods of a year in there and each year will be the same, I think that is an advantage for other countries that have a changing cycling here.  We can fast track through there.


O.K. I’ve pretty much covered the things that I think that you will see that we are trying to do that we did in Australia, head coach, men’s and women’s coach to look down men’s and women’s swimming, national event coaches, fly, back, breast, free, IM and sprint looking across the men’s and women’s programs and a national youth coach so that if the butterfly coach, finds that there is no 13 or 14 year old butterflyers within that corridor of opportunity he talks to me and the national youth coach and he says we better do some clinics for young butterflyers and find some because in eight years time we are going to have no one on their senior team.  He might research the latest trends in butterfly swimming and say we need to bring an expert in from overseas to develop our butterfly program, it’s not happening, or he says Bill we’ve lost two swimmers at age 16 they have just dropped out I get on the phone to the program where they come from, and I say coach where is Freddy Bloggs he was here last year but he is not here this year, where is he, what’s happened to him, I give mum Bloggs or Dad Bloggs a ring and say we’ve noticed Freddy’s dropped out what is the problem, if there is a problem with Freddy or school we want to handle it we can’t afford to miss, so basically it is a check and double check system, from the national head coach, men’s and women’s coach national event coaches and camps where we keep identifying those athletes and a corridor of opportunity based on that 83% of 13 and improving 3% per year and an evaluation of all competitions, basically we want to close the net as tightly as possible so no fish escapes, no one gets through the net and we keep the net there so make sure that the development of the coach and athlete, coach is number one and athlete number 2 is geared to long terms goals and long term development.  I think that we are going to probably leave it at that, but is there any questions, I know that we are well over time.


Yes (question) the men have to be club coaches they can’t be in our center program, they have to be club coaches and they are part time and they have to have to maintain their position they either have to put a swimmer either on the national open team or the national youth team the moment they don’t do that they lose their position and we appoint someone else they have to have some one on that program.


Yes, (question) is I would like to hear your response to this, it seems like you are doing great on British records but your concerned about a small number of junior records, I could see two possible good things from that, maybe your national program is working to prepare your younger swimmers to hit their peaks when they are older or another good thing could mean your senior coaches are doing a heck of a job with not as material as they should have) I think you are right on both counts, I think their senior coaches are doing a hell of a job but with an aging national team, the average age of our national team in Great Britain is for women in the 26th to 27 area age, and the men my quote at our British nationals was the Sheila’s did good and the guys turned up and that was about it, the guys, the saving grace for the men’s team was that no one drowned and we’ve have gone the same cycle where we haven’t developed our men’s program and we let it fall away and we haven’t addressed the needs of our male swimmers and the problem we have is we don’t have depth because what happened in Great Britain our local authorities took away the learn to swim from clubs so the ability to raise funds was gone, we have a very poor standard of learning to swim in the country the standard learn to swim is so the development through and the problem is that now these local authorities want to charge the learn to swim high rate for their lanes to the clubs in the pool for coaches hire, 25 pound per hour, per lane so that is what they can make teaching learn to swim so they think well we’ll charge the club that and as a result the clubs run 50 meter events because they can make a lot of money just going 50/50, so our talent is overexposed to sprinting too early and a lot of our results are coming in 50 meter based events and we are not extending it through the 200, we have to make a 200 priority with all our Junior teams we’ve made a 200 the number one priority to try and develop clubs to focus on the 200 meter event, everthing in Great Britain is geared towards quick fix 50 meter result based swimming and it’s not being carried through to the 100 and the 200 so you are partially right on both, that it is, I think we have a good development program for senior athletes but we have missed the men completely we haven’t addressed their needs at all we haven’t touched the things that they need and the women have done pretty well and they’ve stayed in it but we have a aging women’s team and we don’t have the number of replacements that we need to come up behind them.


(Question) I probably not familiar with that in Great Britain as I should be but it certainly seems that way, all our males in Great Britain want to swim the 50 because we had a guy called Mark Foster who has been great short course 50 meter free and back and he set the tone for everybody wanting to be a 50 meter specialist and the clubs have encouraged it because they have run all these 50 meter events but it hasn’t led to the development of the 100 and the 200 so you probably, I think we do struggle to get males into the sport, but Great Britain has been nearer where they have had strong males for the last six years but haven’t nurtured the people coming behind enough and as a result become an island with nothing around it in men’s swimming.


(Question) one of the things that we’ve tried to do in Great Britain, they did it before I arrived, we’ve got an age group program, to an athlete a young athlete to score at a meet they’ve got to swim what three or four events and it’s going to be the 200, you can swim the 50 free but you are going to swim the 200 so they are going to score for one event, they’ve got to score in four events and one of those events is 200 so that is where our age group kids, and I get it just from to doing it, so hopefully that is going to address some of the needs the only problem with that is the meets become long and then you can do heat semi final and final so we do have to address some areas in there to improve it but I think it is a good scheme.
(Question) if you saw a problem in a club and you felt like it came from a coaching philosophy how did you go about teaching them or were you always teaching people the things that you believed or did you step around all those issues.  No, if this is a group of Australian coaches that I was talking to the chances are that I would have been to each of your programs at least three times in the year and I would address the different thing, if I felt that you were, if you are doing something radical, my gut feeling might be this is a line of rubbish, but it is better for you to learn and get your fingers burned or just in case it does work I’m going to watch it and monitor it and be careful with it and keep my eyes on it and if it was showed signs of working I could then distribute that to a lot of different people and if it wasn’t working I’d keep and eye on it and be able to say look hey if you ever thought of modifying it this way a bit or have you ever thought of doing that, I had a good rapport with coaches I had a great rapport with the Australian coaches and I never had any of them say that they didn’t want me in the program, I had a lot more requests to come to programs that I could facilitate, but I would know if this was an Australian group of coaches, I could look and know that I’ve been to your program, your program and your program and I’d been there three or four times in the year and I knew quite a bit about your program, so I knew what your development mono was what your philosophy’s were and I know, I also look at your accreditation exams and I would know what your strength and weaknesses were when you sat for your exams, what your strengths were as a coach and what your weaknesses were and I would try and address those to you if I felt you were weak in a particular area I might get you to go and work with another coach somewhere, or for instance you came on the national event camp and you are a real sprint based coach I would give you the distance group to look after.  Right, so if for instance you send a swimmer onto my team under the camp and they can’t do the basic things that I’ve asked I wouldn’t ask the swimmer what their name was I would ask them who their coach was.  So cause I would want to address the coaching philosophies more than the swimmer philosophies,


O.K. any more questions.  (Question) I can’t live long enough is the answer… the question is…I think it’s going to take I think we’ve turned it around, so I think we’ve done it already I think that we’ve made the changes, haven’t made all the changes we want and remember Great Britain is a country steeped in tradition and change doesn’t come very easy and I haven’t been very sensitive to that and so we’ve changed quite dramatically, there are a lot of voodoo dolls in Great Britain that look like me.  So we have changed things around and my commitment at best is six years and probably more like four, but I feel like I could make those changes pretty quickly, coaches have been great in support and the swimmers have been outstanding in support, so I feel with that we can change.  You’ll get me in a lot of trouble there, no I think you have, look let me tell you, United States sets the trends for everybody in world swimming there is no question that the United States, everybody follows the lead of the United States, now what we try to do is foreign coaches remove from you is to take what you are doing and enhance it and develop it further and lead it, you’ve lead worlds swimming and we’ve tried and you’ve been the standard barras and everything we’re doing is based is on what American swimming has done over a period of time, but I think the one thing is smaller nations, the one thing that we can have that we have to do to try and come back the strength of United States is great coaches and what I’m about to say everybody is going to jump, more control, I’m going to be with this coach and I’m going to know what his philosophies are, I’m going to know how he things, I’m going to know his strengths and weaknesses, I’m going to know what these coaches are, he might like it and there might be some rough patches in there, for instance if comes to a camp what was you name again, Todd, if Todd comes to my event camp, Todd in front of all these coaching peers write your workout up on the board, look at Todd why have you done that, I think that’s wrong I think you should have done this, I think you have made a mistake, explain that to me, he has to stand up and defend his workout in front of every single coach on that camp, it’s hard and I’m going to tear at the pieces, whether I believe it or not I’m going to be the devil’s advocate I’m going to just be ruthless with you but however ruthless I am it is not as ruthless as the swimmers are going to be tomorrow when he puts that workout up and I go hmmm what a lot of rubbish this is, or whatever, but the thing is this, if Todd goes through that experience the gets the feeling of being invincible.


Smaller nations have to develop athletes who are superior in every possible way and coaches who are invincible under the greatest amount of pressure possible that is the only thing that we can use to combat what everybody in the United States has.  We don’t have 250 universities with untold facilities and great pools.  We don’t have the numbers competing in the sport, we don’t have the organization structures behind us that you guys have got, but we can because the small numbers do a better job with the better or I think we can, so if you take that away from me I have nothing to hang on to, right I just think we have to do a better job with the people that we have got, and we got to be more fine item in every detail possible with that athlete, any more questions? Bill is it required by this program for the British coaches to shave their heads, or did Chris Bartlet promote that.  I don’t know, there are three guys sitting over there all have shaved heads and they all have the first name Dave so it helps me they are easily identifiable number one and two I’ve only got to say Dave I’m on an easy weekend, some people say to me Bill will your change while your England and I figure that by the time I leave Great Britain I’m going to be in their face that much that they will all have an Australian accent, so but I have to say in respect to these guys the British coaches I work with, I’ll give you an example, one of the best programs in Great Britain is led by a coach called Ian Armeger, has four swimmers on the national team, trains in a 20 yard four lane pool that is 70 years of age, 70 years and from day to day he doesn’t know what time he’ll have to train his athletes the next day cause he only gets what is left over from the university of Lofbra in their phys ed department and he is one of the lucky coaches in Great Britain cause he gets it free.  So that is what we have to work with, so we are facing insurmountable odds but we have to look at what we could be good at and what our strengths are and run with them and our strengths are investment in the coaches.

O.K.  Everybody is starting to fall asleep and sick of hearing from me.  Guys I always enjoy coming to the United Stated, always enjoy being here, can’t say I enjoy seeing Joe all the time cause every time I see Joe I twitch and think of 1976 and hurts but anyway a guy my pleasure to be here, look if I can ever welcome you into Great Britain as a guest or your coming over or anytime please feel free to contact me, once again great to be here, thanks appreciate it.


PowerPoint presentation Related to British Swimming


Olympic Medals will be won by our efforts in 2002 and 2003.






Reward and Recognition



Less than 10% of Australia’s

GB 10% cost more to hire than Australia’s 100%.

Must have long course competitions and training.

Only country in the world, which cannot conduct a full team camp due to lack of accessible facilities (regardless if we could not afford)



UK lotteries

Bottom line – non-growth

Pool hire will go up

Salaries will go up

Inflation will increase

GB budget as compared to Australian budget when pool is deducted represents less than 20% and the Australian budget is growing!

Facility costs affect clubs as well as the GB budget.

45% of our budget is spent on “facility” hire.



We want you to win the race but you cannot afford or have the fastest car!


??? What works for minor sports does not work for major sports!

Completely different!

Without a major sponsor GB cannot survive on a reducing budget and increased costs in World Swimming.



Worlds best competition calendar

World’s best coaches

Long course training/competition


Major – major sponsor



All accredited (lift professional image and justify better recognition)
All BSCTA members (strength in numbers)
Best coaches in the world by 2003.

New accreditation/education system required

Theory (clinics – courses)

Practical (camps – clinics)

Performance (results CG, OG, WC, EC) Long Course

Coaching model – practised and perfected.

Expert coaching with minimum budget and lack of facilities can be successful at world level but with only a limited number of swimmers.


2-month competition free zone

3 months out for sprinters (compete last month)

2 months out for distance

(Cold swims, coach’s challenge, 3 man relays etc)

Trials (major championships – all if possible) 15-14 weeks out simulating competition schedule.

Orientation camp 13 weeks out

Team building, measurements, media training, test sets, familiarisation – coach/swimmer variation.  (Every US swimmer has 2-4 coaches) cannot take each home coach to every competition but must provide for athlete.


Competition 10 weeks out

National event camp

– Best open (team)

– Best age/youth

Aerobic and power/speed comparisons

Competition 7 weeks out

Grand Prix sudden death/elimination type

Men’s and Women’s camp all seniors/team members (relays)


Competition 4 weeks out

Relay rehearsal

10 day staging camp 14 days out

3-day village camp


Follow up de-brief competition


Four times 3-week module

3-week module

Each module finishes with a competition (long course), each module starts with a camp immediately after a competition.

Any module can be perfected and practised throughout the year in isolation.


Training and practice is 48-50 weeks per year.

No part time participation.

All activities compulsory.

Cycle practised twice per year

eg         1. 2 months competition free

  1. 1 x 15-week cycle (long course)
  2. 1 x 12 – 15 week cycle (long into short)


Cycle No 1.        Jan to March

2 months of high training

Low competition


Cycle No 2.

Trials then 15-week preparation.

Modules 3 weeks.

Every module 1 Long Course Competition/1 Long Course Camp/Mare Nostrum and 2nd competition.


Cycle No 3.

Short Course Championships

Long into Short

12-15 weeks – Grand Prix

European Short Course

Increase volume – 3-week modules.

Camp to follow Short Course


Cycle No 4.

November – December

Over-race period.


Cycle No 5

Prepare youth to advance into Senior/Open Team.


British coaches must become the most practised and world leaders in this field (15 week preparation).

National event coaches/programmes.

Men and women’s coaches/programmes.

Hot weather exposure leading into Athens.



Only one National Centre instead of 3 expensive compromised Centres and one foreign (limited)


Only two centres – one for women and one for men and one for foreign (limited)


No National Centres


I cannot recommend the current situation – 3 compromised, duplicated, poorly serviced, incomplete programs, which cost way too much.


GB Senior Coach

Now Men’s – Women’s

Strength Coach

Technical Director



2001     Top 12 Annual World Rank (2PN)


2002     Top 8 Annual World Rank (2PN)

2003     Top 4 Annual World Rank (2PN)


With a shrinking budget the focus on fewer athletes receiving more support is crucial to success.


Athletes ranked top 20 to the standard above must be looked after on minimal service by the national programme and maximum support through the servicing of the premier clubs and national centre.


Athletes ranked top 21 to top 25 will be funded at a reduced level

Importance of dual funding of ‘potential’ and ‘performance’


With a minimal budget (negative growth) we must avoid growth areas of spending

We currently pay ‘lip service’ to:-

  1. A) Sports Science
  2. B) Media Training, Media Exposure


It is not a matter of ‘do not want’ it is a matter of ‘can not afford’


Both must be addressed in ‘potential’ and our coaches must be trained to deliver these services


The value of ‘kit’


UKSI and EIS do not appear to be able to cover any significant part of our needs


Olympic events

Recognition and priority

50M Events

(Coaching contribution)

Mental preparation

Competition ready

200 priority


Importance of potential (Grows as performance reduces)

Coach development

(Result based – fast track information – not fast track coaches)

Pool hire affects the outcome


Mare Nostrum

Dependant on preparation – GB athletes and coaches swim good all year – resting for minor meets but fail to swim great at any given pre-determined meet. We must learn the ability to train and compete without compromising either.


World Cups

Home Countries – Up until recently sending unproven domestic talent of too low a standard

18 and over must be over 900 points
Support Directed At:-

Best athletes


Best coaches


50m all weather affordable maximum space facility

Reverse thinking on 50m – 25m facilities and competition

Competition and training calendars complementary to each other

The vast majority of coaches are saying it but not doing it

Volume is minimal (way below what is required)

Competition and quality is soft

Males dash and bash culture (poor technical skills)


Strength – power – speed (mixed outcome from excellent to useless)

Club visits 3-4 ways


Fast Tracking Youth

Post Worlds and post Commonwealth

European Short Course

World Short Course (50M specialists)

European juniors

European Long Course

Athens Meets


Potential and performance must provide stimulus and the means for developing and implementing a multi dimensional/fully integrated high performance competitive swim programme




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