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Swimming Australia wants to revive NSW as a powerhouse, as Queensland steals the spotlight

by ZwemZa on July 14th, 2018

Ian Thorpe won 10 Commonwealth Games gold medals during his career ©Getty Images

Swimming Australia will work to re-establish NSW as a swimming power to ensure the sport retains an elite presence throughout the country.

Just two members of the 32-strong Australian team for the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo next month live in NSW, with 25 of the athletes based in Queensland.

Queensland’s climate, facilities and wealth of talented coaches and athletes have always made the state a swimming magnet.

Matt Wilson is one of only two NSW-based swimmers in Australia’s Pan Pacific squad. Pic: AAP

Olympic gold medallist Alex Baumann, who has recently come on board as SA’s chief strategist, high performance, said growing high performance in NSW was vital if Australia was to remain a swimming power.

“We’ve identified that … there needs to be some intervention in NSW,” Baumann said.

“Queensland is doing very well but how do we ensure that NSW is performing as well? How do we build that sustainability in NSW?

“The belief is that is NSW is performing well, then the whole nation will perform well in addition to Queensland.”

NSW has just one of the 10 high performance training centres in the country at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (SOPAC) where the state’s two resident Pan Pac swimmers — breaststroker Matt Wilson and backstroker Bradley Woodward — train with Adam Kable.

Former NSWIS swimmer Adam Kable (L) trains NSW’s elite at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre.

Baumann said one of the sport’s key strategic priorities was helping develop more opportunities in the state.

“It’s a matter of ensuring all the states are firing and performing well but we do have to put more emphasis on NSW from a coaching perspective,” Baumann said.

“That’s not saying that there aren’t quality coaches there but how do we ensure we are creating the right environments in NSW.”

David and Emma McKeon are two NSW-raised swimmers who have opted to train in Queensland.

Many of the state’s best swimmers end up in Queensland, with the likes of Wollongong products Emma and David McKeon and Newcastle’s Thomas Fraser-Holmes relocating to the Sunshine State to link with elite coaches.

“So how do we provide the right environments where they will stay in NSW? “ Baumann said of the challenge facing SA.

Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren said the SOPAC program could provide a blueprint for others in the state but regional locations may have to be looked at, with elite swimming programs a tough sell in the world’s biggest cities.

“The biggest capitals in the world usually don’t have high performance programs,” Verhaeren said.

“It’s because it’s busy, it’s not easily accessible, it’s too expensive.

Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren recognises the need to revive swimming in NSW. Pic: Adam Head

“And this is what’s worked at SOPAC, the athletes that train there, live almost at Sydney Olympic Park so they don’t have the traffic.

“Matt Wilson was (initially) driving an hour up and down (from the Blue Mountains) to get to the pool and that’s in the longer term for high performance.

“That’s why Brisbane is so successful.

“But you don’t see high performance swimming in New York or LA, or Paris, it’s too busy.

“But looking, for example at Newcastle, Wollongong, that’s all still (possible).

“It’s not impossible in Sydney but you have to look carefully at where you locate people.”

Emma Greenwood | Gold Coast Bulletin

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