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.”