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Apr 26 15

Anderson, Meyer secure 5km titles at US open water champs

by ZwemZa
Alex Meyer (USA Swimming)

Alex Meyer (USA Swimming)

Olympic silver medalist Haley Anderson and fellow Olympian Alex Meyer fought their way to national tiles in the 5-kilometer race on Sunday at the USA Swimming Open Water National Championships at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club.

Their victories qualify them to swim the 5K at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, in July.

After a second-place finish in the 10K that qualified her for the World Championships on Friday, Anderson touched first with a surge in the final 300 meters in a time of 1 hour, 1 minute, and 51.291 seconds for the 5K national title. National Teamer Ashley Twichell finished second with a time of 1:01:53.638 seconds.

“Today was more about changing it up, seeing how I felt,” said Anderson. “I knew if I swam well I would get to swim the 5K at Worlds, but if not I still have the 10K so there were no worries today.”

Meyer claimed his second straight national title in the 5K after a tight finish with teammate David Heron. Meyer finished with a time of 57:53.940 seconds and secured his position on the U.S roster for the 2015 FINA World Championships after he just missed qualifying for the 10K by coming in third by .006.

Heron, also a member of the National Team touched in 57:44.229 seconds for second place. He touched 0.16 seconds ahead of Andrew Gemmell  who was third in 57:44.393.

“That was fun,” said Meyer. “I died a bit on the backstretch, but I tried to stay up front, and when David swam up beside me it ended up being a perfect scenario for us for the finish.”

In the women’s race, local favorite Stephanie Peacock led for a majority of the 5K. It wasn’t until the final lap that Anderson made her move to race past Peacock to battle for first with Twichell in the final straightaway. Friday’s 10K winner Becca Mann also made her move in the final lap to move past Peacock, but didn’t have enough to overtake Twichell and touched third.

In the men’s race, Heron held the lead for the first lap, but Chip Peterson  soon took over and held his lead for the next two laps. In the final lap the lead was traded regularly by Meyer, Gemmell and Heron before the close finish where Meyer proved victorious. There was only a 0.45-second difference between first and third.

The 2015 Open Water National Championships were held in conjunction with the 2015 Open Water Festival, which featured a series of clinics and races, including a National Age Group Invitational being hosted by Gulf Coast Swim Club.

USA Swimming

Apr 26 15

South African safari starts for Danush and peers

by ZwemZa

Taking to a particular sport at a young age is often what serves as the recipe to success when a sportsperson turns professional. But love and passion for what you do only takes you to a certain distance. Hard work, talent and that inherent ability to lift your game when needed are what count when up against top competitors.

The latter has always been viewed as the missing ingredient when an Indian comes up the ranks but fails to deliver on their early promise when they go fully professional.

And when JSW, under their Sports Excellence Program (SEP), selected seven budding swimmers (14-16 years) for a scholarship programme that also ensures their education is taken care of to Durban, there was palpable excitement as it was a chance for youngsters to gain experience and work with someone as wise as Graham Hill, who has 30 years of coaching experience and is the head coach of Swimming South Africa.

Likith SP, Karan K Raju, Manav Dileep, Siva Sridhar (all Karnataka), Aryan Makhija, Vedant Khandeparkar (both Mumbai) and Danush Suresh (Chennai) were the lucky ones to make the sojourn to the land of the Savannah.

Danush Suresh

Danush Suresh

Swimming prodigy Danush became the only swimmer from the state to be selected, and was delighted. “I was very happy when selected. We had to attend selection trials in Bengaluru, and I’m thankful to JSW for providing us this opportunity,” the 15-year-old said.

Having reached Durban earlier this week, they have started attending school at Glenwood High School, where they will study for three years, and will start training from Monday. “For now, we’re getting acclimatised to the conditions and getting used to the routine,” Danush said.

Working under Hill has been a unique experience for the city-lad who trains at the Velachery Aquatic Complex. “He’s a good coach who looks after his swimmers. I’m looking forward to improving my strokes under him,” he said of the man who trained Chad Le Clos, who who beat Olympic legend Michael Phelps to the 200m butterfly gold at the 2012 London Olympics. “Danush is someone who caught my eye on my first trip to India. He has loads of potential and I’m looking forward to working with him,” Hill said of his new ward.

Having now experienced the rigours at one of the most accomplished sporting and swimming nations in the world, the citizens of whom are hospitable according to Danush, the teenager can only expect better things from hereon.

Ravi Iyer

Apr 26 15

Bowman perhaps the most accomplished coach ever hired at ASU

by ZwemZa
Hall of Fame swim coach Bob Bowman is perhaps the most accomplished coach ever hired at Arizona State.(USA Today Sports Images)

Hall of Fame swim coach Bob Bowman is perhaps the most accomplished coach ever hired at Arizona State.(USA Today Sports Images)

Bob Bowman is the most accomplished coach ever hired by Arizona State in any sport.

I started to believe this Friday after a conversation with USA Swimming communications director Scott Leightman, who was with the Phoenix Suns from 1998-2003, and I’m more convinced after spending some time reviewing ASU’s coaching history.

Frank Kush, widely regarded as ASU’s greatest coach, was a three-year football assistant at ASU when he replaced Dan Devine to start a 22-year head coaching run that took him to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Bowman comes to ASU five years after his induction into the American Swimming Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He has been ASCA Coach of the Year five times

None of the others on the ASU coaching Mount Rushmore — Ned Wulk (men’s basketball), Bobby Winkles (baseball), Baldy Castillo (track) — started at ASU with anything close to Bowman’s credentials. Nor did Jim Brock (baseball), Bobby Douglas (wrestling), Mona Plummer (swimming), Anne Pittman (tennis), Linda Vollstedt (women’s golf) or, in my mind, anyone.

Dennis Erickson won two national football titles at Miami and a Pac-10 co-championship at Oregon State before coming to ASU. Bill Frieder built Michigan men’s basketball into a power then was fired before the 1989 NCAA Tournament after agreeing to become ASU’s coach. The Wolverines went on to win the national title under Frieder’s former assistant Steve Fisher.

Erickson and Frieder were marginally successful at ASU but not enough to keep their job. So Bowman’s résumé counts for only so much especially since he can’t put 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps directly into the pool as a Sun Devil, unless Phelps eventually decides he wants to be on Bowman’s staff. But Bowman coaching Phelps at the 2016 Rio Olympics will be a “big ASU billboard,” said wrestling coach Zeke Jones, another high profile hire by Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson.

“Ray is going after a certain type of hire,” said Jones, USA Wrestling National freestyle coach before coming to ASU. “He wants excellence at the highest level and like President (Michael) Crow he wants a global approach where there is no ceiling on how high you can go. Team Anderson is a darn good team, and we’re hitting some home runs.”

ASU current head coaches

Sheila McInerney, Tennis/31st Year (hired August 16, 1984)
Greg Kraft, Track & Field/19th Year (hired on July 28, 1996)
Charli Turner Thorne, Women’s Basketball/18th Year (hired July 1, 1996)
Mark Bradshaw, Men’s and Women’s Diving/17th Year (hired July 30, 1997)
Melissa Luellen, Women’s Golf/13th Year (hired July 16, 2002)
Louie Quintana, Men’s and Women’s Cross Country/11th Year (hired Aug. 18, 2004)
Todd Clapper, Water Polo/10th Year (hired August 3, 2005)
Kevin Boyd, Women’s Soccer/8th Year (hired March 30, 2007)
Jason Watson, Volleyball/7th Year (hired January 29, 2008)
Tim Mickelson, Men’s Golf/4th Year (hired July 10, 2011)
Todd Graham, Football/3rd Year (hired Dec. 14, 2011)
Craig Nicholson, Softball/2nd Year (hired June 30, 2013)
Zeke Jones, Wrestling/1st Year (hired April 9, 2014)
René Lyst, Gymnastics/1st Year (hired May 5, 2014)
Tracy Smith, Baseball/1st year (hired June 24, 2014)
Greg Powers, Hockey (hired Nov. 18, 2014)
Bobby Hurley, Men’s Basketball (hired April 8, 2015)
Bob Bowman, Men’s and Women’s Swimming (hired April 24, 2015)

Apr 26 15

Aquatics set to receive major IOC funding among Olympic sports

by ZwemZa

Swimming and gymnastics are the biggest winners and modern pentathlon the biggest loser in the new revenue distribution framework finalised by members of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) in Sochi earlier this week,  David Owen reports

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) and the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) are each set to receive a 28 per cent increase over the next Olympic quadrennium in comparison with the post-London 2012 period.

This is even though the overall sum to be distributed might conceivably rise by as little as three per cent compared with the prior quadrennium and the number of recipients has increased by just under eight per cent, from 26 to 28, through the addition to the Olympic programme of golf and rugby sevens.

Paperwork circulated at the General Assembly explained that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was reluctant to commit to distributing more than $530 million (£349 million/€488 million) to the 28 Federations, up from around $515 million (£339 million/€474 million) in the previous period.

However, it might stretch to an “exceptional contribution” to take account of the two extra sports and other details.

For that reason, the sums agreed are based on the ASOIF’s own estimate of what the total distributed will ultimately be; that is to say $550 million (£362 million/€506 million).

Even this would represent only a 6.8 per cent period-on-period increase, against a massive jump of 74 per cent, from $296 million (£195 million/€272 million) to $515 million (£339 million/€474 million), last time.

That jump reflected the near 50 per cent rate of growth achieved in the sum raised from broadcasting rights in 2009-2012.

The International Swimming Federation are set to receive a 28 per cent increase over the next Olympic quadrennium in comparison with the post-London 2012 period
The International Swimming Federation are set to receive a 28 per cent increase over the next Olympic quadrennium in comparison with the post-London 2012 period ©Getty Images

Following changes in 2013, the 28 sports are now split into five groups, reflecting the magnitude of their respective contributions to the Games.

Five sports – athletics, equestrian, handball, hockey and modern pentathlon – look set to have to get by with less IOC money than in the prior quadrennium.

Athletics – which was getting more than twice as much as any other sport as recently as the quadrennium culminating with London 2012 – will suffer the smallest cut in percentage terms (11.5 per cent) among the quintet, but the largest ($5.2 million (£3.4 million/€4.8 million) in its cash allocation.

This will leave it with $40 million (£26 million/€37 million), just 25 per cent more than the $32 million (£21 million/€29 million) allocated to the next two biggest recipients, swimming and gymnastics.

Equestrian, handball and hockey face cuts of 13.6 per cent to $15.3 million (£10.1 million/€14.1 million) each.

Modern pentathlon, which has been bracketed with the two newcomers, golf and rugby sevens, stands to receive $13 million (£9 million/€12 million) - down 15 per cent.

A full list of allocations and the change from the prior quadrennium is as follows:

Sport Revenue allocation Change from prior quadrennium
Athletics $40 million (-) 11.5 per cent
Gymnastics and swimming $32 million each (+) 28 per cent
Basketball, cycling, football, tennis and volleyball $25 million each No change
Rowing $17.7 million No change
Archery, badminton, boxing, judo, shooting, table tennis and weightlifting $17.7 million (+) 15.7 per cent
Equestrian, handball and hockey $15.3 million (-) 13.5 per cent
Canoeing, fencing, sailing, taekwondo, triathlon and wrestling $15.3 million No change
Modern pentathlon $13 million (-) 15 per cent
Golf and rugby sevens $13 million N/A
ASOIF $2.8 million  
Total $550 million  
Apr 26 15

Schooling named Singapore Swimmer of the Year

by ZwemZa
Joseph Schooling

Joseph Schooling

Joseph Schooling has been named Swimmer of the Year. This was announced at the Singapore Swimming Association Awards Night on Saturday.

The accolade came a week after he was named Newcomer of the Year at the Big 12 Conference, a 10-school collegiate athletic conference based in Texas.

Schooling is currently studying at the University of Texas in Austin. The 19-year old clinched Singapore’s first Commonwealth Games swimming medal last year, after bagging silver in the 100-metre butterfly event. He also won three medals at the Asian Games in Incheon.

Schooling’s next big test will be the upcoming SEA Games in June, where he will be part of a 75-member contingent that will represent Singapore in aquatics.

The lineup was unveiled at the awards ceremony on Saturday evening, and includes the likes of Quah Zheng Wen and Tao Li.

The event was attended by Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong. Mr Wong also presented awards for Coach of the Year and Technical Officer of the Year across all four disciplines of aquatics.

Currently, only waterpolo has yet to confirm their squad. The final squad will be announced after May 17.


Apr 26 15

Activist abandons Earth Day swim in polluted New York City canal

by ZwemZa
Christopher Swain, a clean-water activist, gargles with hydrogen peroxide after swimming in the Gowanus Canal as part of an Earth Day awareness action about pollution in the Brooklyn borough of New York April 22, 2015. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Christopher Swain, a clean-water activist, gargles with hydrogen peroxide after swimming in the Gowanus Canal as part of an Earth Day awareness action about pollution in the Brooklyn borough of New York April 22, 2015. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

An environmental activist on Wednesday gave up less than halfway through his attempt to swim the length of a notoriously polluted New York City canal, but not before comparing it to “swimming into a dirty diaper.”

Christopher Swain, a clean-water activist, cited weather concerns in abandoning his effort to swim Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, described by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as among the nation’s “most extensively contaminated” bodies of water.

Swain, 47, climbed out of the 1.8 mile (2.9-km) canal less than an hour into his swim to mark Earth Day and press for a speedier clean-up of its water.

He said he encountered unexpected delays as well as growing winds and dark clouds that threatened a possible storm.

“It’s probably the safest move at this point,” he said after swimming what he estimated was about two-thirds of a mile (1 km).

Years of dumping of pollutants ranging from industrial waste to sewage have contaminated the Gowanus Canal with toxic substances including pesticides, heavy metals and cancer-causing PCBs, according to the EPA.

“It’s a chemical cornucopia,” EPA spokesman Elias Rodriguez said.

Biology students from the New York City College of Technology reportedly found gonorrhea in a drop of water from the canal, the New York University student-run publication Scienceline wrote in 2007.

Swain said he was unconcerned about health risks, largely because he was wearing a protective dry suit, gloves, boots, flippers and a swim cap.

“It’s just like swimming into a dirty diaper,” he said.

Completed in 1869, the canal was cut through the borough of Brooklyn to feed commercial activity around factories that once powered part of the city’s economy.

Today, it cuts through gentrifying residential neighborhoods and is mostly known for its foul odor and display of garbage at low tide.

A day ahead of Swain’s planned plunge, the EPA wrote on its Twitter feed that it “strongly advises AGAINST swimming in the #Gowanus Canal.”

But Swain vowed to try again. “I promise someday I’ll swim the entire Gowanus Canal,” he said.

In 2010, the EPA placed the canal on its Superfund National Priorities List, opening the way for cleanup efforts.

Dredging its contaminated sediment bed and other rehabilitation measures are expected to cost an estimated $506 million and be completed in 2022 under the agency’s plan.

Dredging has yet to start, the agency said.


Apr 26 15

Murdoch keeps his eyes on the prize

by ZwemZa
Murdoch enjoyed Commonwealth Games success, winning two medals in Glasgow

Murdoch enjoyed Commonwealth Games success, winning two medals in Glasgow

When talking about Ross Murdoch it is difficult to find a superlative that hasn’t been used to describe his meteoric rise through the swimming ranks.

Since bursting on to the scene in 2013, the 21-year-old from Balfron, Stirlingshire, has built a formidable reputation that includes his giant-slaying moment against Michael Jamieson to take gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow as well as two European silver medals.

Even when feeling below par, Murdoch still manages to pull it out of the bag: earlier this month he set a blistering Scottish 100m breaststroke record of 59.13sec at the 2015 British Championships in London, claiming silver behind Adam Peaty. That was enough to secure a berth in the British team for the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, this August. The team, which was announced on Friday, also includes Scots Hannah Miley, Robbie Renwick, Dan Wallace, Duncan Scott and Stephen Milne.

Yet, there were contrasting fortunes for Murdoch in the 200m breaststroke event which saw Peaty win with Andrew Willis second and the Scot in third. Only the top two finishers qualify for the World Championships. Murdoch admitted to being disappointed at missing out on a 200m spot, the discipline in which he won gold at Glasgow 2014.

“After the summer I had I truly believed there were big things coming for me this year, but I had a disrupted preparation,” he says. “I didn’t have the background of work leading into the trials that I had last year. I need to get myself back in form and I have another three months to push on with that. For me to go 2:08.90 in the shape I’m in, I was massively pleased.”

Following a winter which saw his training derailed by a lingering chest infection that led to him pulling out of the 2014 World Short Course Championships in December, Murdoch is content with how things have worked out.

“I was out for a month and then it took another month-and-a-half to get back following my illness,” he says. “I only had around eight weeks of solid training leading into the trials. I’m pleased with how everything has gone and think I’m going to be in a really good place in the summer.”

Murdoch is ranked second in the world behind Peaty in the men’s 100m breaststroke. “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure I’m on the podium this summer because I truly believe that is a realistic target,” he says.

Last week saw the University of Stirling student lend his support to the launch of a three-year partnership between ScottishPower and Cancer Research UK to help raise funds to battle the disease. He said the death of his former training partner, Christopher Smith, who had an aggressive form of bone cancer and passed away aged just 17 in 2012, had had a lasting impact on him.

“We swam together between the ages of eight and 11,” says Murdoch. “I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years but when I heard the news it hit me hard. I remember going into training and that day was a write-off. It was knowing I wouldn’t see my pal again.

“I have a close friend whose mum is suffering from breast cancer at the moment so it is something very much at the forefront of my mind.”

While success may help sate the appetite for some, Murdoch’s hunger shows few signs of waning. He already has the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio firmly in his sights.

“We have the world champs this summer but for me it’s all about Rio,” he says. “I was concerned about making this team [for Russia] but it’s not the be all and end all. Next year is the big dance and I really hope to be a part of that team. Something I have wanted all of my life is to have that status of being an Olympian.”

One name notably absent from the team list for the World Champ- ionships is Olympic silver medallist Jamieson. He is reported to have attributed the slump in form, which saw him finish sixth in the 200m breaststroke at the British Champ- ionships, to “self-doubt” and an over- reaction to the disappointment of last summer’s silver in Glasgow.

When a swimmer gets into that negative head space, Murdoch concedes it is tough to turn things around.

“It’s a very difficult place to get out from,” he says. “When you have convinced yourself you’ve not done enough that is a dark place for any sportsman to be. I think he [Jamieson] said in an interview recently that he didn’t have the background of work because he had a bit of a break. In a few months’ time, when he has a bit more work under his belt, he will be as confident as ever.”

Murdoch, though, is determined not to dwell on the comparisons between himself and Jamieson. “It’s something I’m keen to move past,” he says. “I don’t really like living in the past. As much as the Commonwealth Games were massive for me, it’s just a stepping stone and there are much bigger things to come from me.”

He is on steadier ground talking about his relationship with City of Derby swimmer Peaty. While fierce rivals in the pool, away from racing the pair have forged a close friendship ever since they roomed together at the 2012 European Junior Championships. Murdoch describes Peaty’s 100m breaststroke world record of 57.92sec set at the British Championships as “pretty special”.

“Adam is a hard worker and his tenacity shone through that night,” he says. “I think he has been capable of breaking that world record since Glasgow but I don’t think his race tactics were quite right then. I always thought he should have gone out a bit quicker which is what he did in London and it paid off for him.”

Murdoch clearly finds it motivational to have a sparring partner like double Commonwealth and four-time European champion Peaty. “We bring out the best in each other,” he says. “I know how hard he works in training every day but I do the exact same and Adam knows that. When I’m at the pool, struggling to get in at that time in the morning, I think: ‘Adam is probably already in and almost finished his session by now, I better get in and start mine’.”

When asked about the longevity of his career, there is no doubting Murdoch’s ambition. “I would keep doing it for another 20 years if I could but ultimately it will be my body that gives out before my head,” he says. “I’m going to keep going until I need surgery.”

He cheerily admits, however, to not being quite as vigilant as he should be with regards to the young talent that could soon be snapping at his heels. “I tend to keep looking up and one day I will probably get a surprise, so I maybe should start looking down the ranks a wee bit,” he says. “I just keep focusing on my own performances and don’t think about anyone else. I want to get into training and work hard every day to make sure I’m still surprising people as well.”

Susan Swarbrick


Apr 26 15

Swimming Australia is showing weakness by not gambling on a new high performance director

by ZwemZa
Australian swimming head coach Jacco Verhaeren.

Australian swimming head coach Jacco Verhaeren.

In hindsight it was described as the “perfect storm brewing” and two years later Swimming Australia is flying straight back into the eye of it.

At least, it looks that way.

Just two years after a damning report by the Australian Sports Commission slammed Swimming Australia’s (SAL) performance and recommended they appoint a high performance director, the sport has ignored that advice because a three-month search for applicants failed to find a suitable replacement for Michael Scott.

Instead CEO Mark Anderson announced on Friday the role would be split three-ways, with almost total control of the swim team handed to the head coach Dutchman Jacco Verhaeren as revealed by The Courier-Mail on Friday.

On the surface, it is a repeat of the London 2012 drama when head coach Leigh Nugent was weighed down by excessive responsibilities after the high performance boss David Crocker quit in 2011 and wasn’t replaced.

The 2013 ASC report described the fallout from the failure to replace the HP boss as “perfect storm brewing” because “most of the workload was distributed to the head coach and HP manager roles.”

Wayne Lomas was the HP manager in 2011. Four years later he finds himself in an identical situation, promoted to General Manger of Performance to assume the systems and management duties.

Verhaeren will take on more leadership within the team and be the sport’s figurehead while two-time Olympian and former Australian Sports Commission employee Martin Roberts has been hired to oversee strategy until December 2016.

Anderson insisted the sport was not repeating a major mistake even if it looks and sounds awfully similar, just dressed up with fancier titles and an extra body in Roberts whose duty is to focus on plans post-Rio.

“In creating this we believe we have certainly learnt those lessons and the structure we’ve created in terms of dividing the role across three leaders within the high performance team does absolutely take on board those learning,” Anderson said.

“The key thing that we certainly took out of that experience was that the head coach was loaded up with a huge array of responsibilities and we want to ensure that Jacco’s really evolving and developing well and respected highly and we want to make the most of that but also ensure he is able to do the job he will do very well and not be absorbed into the day to day management.”

AIS director Matt Faviar was among the contributors to the 2013 independent review and sat on the SAL interview panel that decided to dissolve the HP director role until Rio to avoid interrupting current plans before beginning a new recruitment process after the Rio Olympics.

He agreed with this interim solution only because the current administration has fixed the major governance issues at play from four years ago and is better suited waiting until after Rio to find the right HP director.

“There were broader systematic issues within the governance arrangements in the sport that are different now to what they were pre-London,” Faviar said.

“We feel very confident in the direction swimming is going, we understand the challenge in finding the right person for the role at this time in the Olympic cycle.”

Time will tell if Anderson and Faviar are right, or if they’ve just repeated history.

Australian rose to virtual world No.1 last year in world swimming with two leaders at the helm with clearly defined roles.

Now with 15 months until the Rio Olympics, they’ve gone back to a formula that may have worked over a decade ago under Don Talbot but was proven to be dysfunctional in its most recent history.

By not gambling on a new HP boss SAL is showing weakness rather than foresight. They fear letting anyone from outside the sport’s inner circle come in with new ideas to possibly challenge the system or instigate positive change.

The swim team will never fall as low as they did in London again. Too much positive change already has assured Australia of at least that much.

But when you do what you’ve always done, you only get what you’ve always got.

Disclaimer: ZwemZa encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on ZwemZa are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of ZwemZa.

Todd Balym


Apr 26 15

Cate Campbell backs swimming restructure as head coach gains expanded role

by ZwemZa
Cate Campbell is happy with swimming's restructure.Cate Campbell is happy with swimming’s restructure. (Getty Images)

World champion sprinter Cate Campbell has endorsed Swimming Australia’s move to bypass the role of high-performance manager and beef up the remit of head coach Jacco Verhaeren before next year’s Rio Olympic Games.

Campbell, who will defend her 100m freestyle crown at August’s FINA World Championships in the Russian city of Kazan, said she was pleased Swimming Australia hadn’t embarked on a “box ticking” exercise in the search for a replacement for Michael Scott, who now heads up Rowing Australia.

As a result of the reshuffle, Verhaeren stands to have an expanded role, with support coming from the highly respected Wayne Lomas, who moves up to the role of general performance manager and a team leader within the AOC management tree.

Martin Roberts, a dual Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, has been appointed to a role in strategic projects and will invest his efforts into a high-performance plan to be implemented after the Rio Games.

Swimming Australia chief executive Mark Anderson said there was a reluctance to upset the applecart as the sport continued to build from a difficult experience in London, which forced a dramatic restructure of the swimming hierarchy.

“The fact we are only 15 months out from the Rio Olympics, we were mindful throughout the recruitment process of ensuring that we had the right individual who could immediately insert themselves into our high-performance environment,” Anderson said.

“We have a world-class coach in Jacco Verhaeren who has evolved extremely well in the role of head coach and across the Australian swimming high-performance system. We believe he is the logical choice at this stage of the Olympic preparation to take over the team.”

That sentiment was backed by Campbell, who said she was confident Verhaeren wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the added layers to his all-encompassing task.

​”They decided to leave that role vacant but provide support for Jacco. It’s not going to be a situation where Jacco takes over Michael Scott’s role. He’ll obviously fill in some of that work but there’s a great support system around him. I think that’s really important,” Campbell said.

“I think it would have been really hard to introduce someone 15 months out from an Olympic Games and for that transition to happen really seamlessly. We’ve created a great team culture and team morale. That’s not to say someone couldn’t just slide in but I think it’s great of Swimming Australia to not just fill the role as a box-ticking exercise.”

Phil Lutton

Apr 26 15

Resurgence possible in Kiwi swimming, led by Lauren Boyle

by ZwemZa
Lauren Boyle is at the head of a possible resurgence in New Zealand swimming.

Lauren Boyle is at the head of a possible resurgence in New Zealand swimming.

New Zealand swimming has had a bit of a flogging in recent years, but perhaps a resurgence is looming.

Three reports have been compiled, examining the structure and performance of Swimming New Zealand, and all have been critical to some degree of the national body. High-profile coaches have come and gone, some not very happily.

Even now there’s no head coach for the national swimming squad and Luis Villanueva, the high performance director, is departing after little more than two years.

Moss Burmester, the former Commonwealth Games butterfly gold medallist, walked out on the sport a couple of years ago with a real parting shot at its administration.

In the water, results have been poor.

The shining exception has been freestyler Lauren Boyle who, after finishing fourth in the 800m at the 2012 London Olympics, has won three world championships medals in Barcelona in 2013, a Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow last year and set a short-course world record for 1500m.

Amazingly, Boyle is swimming faster than ever despite struggling to find a New Zealand coach she’s comfortable working with.

Disabled swimmers Sophie Pascoe and Mary Fisher have achieved exceptional results and brought home buckets of gold medals from Paralympics and world championships.

But apart from the disabled swimmers and Boyle, it’s all been rather grim.

There’s been no Olympic medal since Danyon Loader’s two golds at Atlanta in 1996, no world championship medal or Commonwealth Games gold (except Boyle and Pascoe) since 2006.

Maybe there are better times ahead.

At the recent New Zealand championships in Auckland, no less than 10 swimmers – eight in the pool, two open water – qualified for the world champs in Kazan, Russia, in August. That’s way up on the six who went to the 2013 world champs.

Boyle leads the way, of course, having recorded the world’s fastest 1500m time of the year, at the Australian champs in Sydney this month.

She is a genuinely world-class athlete, even if she is surprisingly under-valued in New Zealand.

Besides Boyle, swimmers such as Tauranga’s Nathan Capp, Helena Gasson and Bobbi Gichard are emerging as potential champions.

Capp, 22, pared seven seconds of his own national 1500m freestyle record and also set records in winning 800m freestyle and 400m individual medley titles. Even more encouraging, he gives the impression he’s just getting started.

Gichard, from Hawke’s Bay, is only 15, but pointed to her ability by cleaning up the 100m and 200m backstroke events.

Gasson, from Waikato, had a memorable nationals, winning four titles, including the tough 400m individual medley. She didn’t qualify for Kazan, but is one to keep an eye on.

In addition to the team heading for Kazan, a team of eight, headed by Pascoe and Fisher, will attend the world IPC championships, for disabled competitors, in Glasgow in July.

And 19 New Zealand swimmers will attend the world university games in Korea, also in July. That’s the largest swimming contingent New Zealand has sent to a world university games.

Despite the problem at national level in coaching and administration, the swimmers may well be turning things around.

Swimming is a particularly tough international sport and things have not been easy at home, so all credit to them.


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