On January 18th Dr. Pippa Grange presented the findings of her cultural review to the board of Swimming Australia and it appears clear that things will change to ensure athletes behave appropriately, there is greater team unity and that the focus is on excellence.
The Telegraph has reported that the details of the review will not be made public until the findings are revealed to a group of 120 swimmers and 50 coaches at a camp on the Gold Coast later this month.
At that time six athletes will be chosen to be part of the process of developing new rules of behaviour for the Australians.
“Yes there will certainly be key findings that come out of it and out of any review we need to consider what actions need to be taken,” Barclay Nettlefold, President of Swimming Australia told The Telegraph. “From an initial discussion, yes, there will be a few items that need to be seriously considered.”
Australian National Team Head Coach Leigh Nugent has already taken steps to ensure not only the performance but the behaviour his team showed at the Olympics never happens again. The two areas that Nugent has targeted initially are team unity and the use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media at major competitions.
After watching many athletes glued to their phones checking tweets and status updates Nugent has banned all national team athletes from using mobile phones and social media during competitions and at team events.
In an article published by the Herald Sun Emily Seebohm went as far as saying that her performance in the 100 backstroke in London was negatively impacted by comments she read on social media sites.
Nugent hopes that by reducing the use of social media along with implementing other simple rules will create greater respect among teammates and stronger team unity. He told the paper that one of the most important rules was very simple, “I am a team member first before I am an individual.”
Barclay Nettlefold, President of Swimming Australia, has been happy with the change he sees in the swimmers, “I think there has been a lot of self-correction already,” Nettlefold told The Telegraph.
“There is a whole sense of they understand what they did wrong, they’re not dumb, they’re clever kids, they just need to understand where the boundaries are and we also do.”
“We have to be there to support them.”
He has also been impressed by the actions that Nugent has taken, “Leigh (Nugent) is very secure, he has his head down and is working hard and certainly has started to restore the confidence within the swimming group and is showing strong leadership again.”
One of the athletes who has worked hard on correcting his behaviour is James Magnussen, who in London was criticized for his performance in the pool and his behaviour out of it. He admitted to The Australian that he has major adjustments in his life to ensure he makes positive changes in both respects.
“I think more than anything I got wrong (was) my life outside of the pool,” Magnussen told The Australian.
“I did everything I needed to do in the lead-up in the pool. (But the results) just showed there were some imbalances.”
“I’ve made a lot of changes in my life and I’m feeling really positive about where I am at the moment. I’m in a good spot mentally.”
“I’ve taken on a mind coach – not necessarily purely for the psychological side of swimming, but for my life in general.”
“I’ve really worked hard on trying to be a more positive and easy-going person. I think it’s paid huge dividends both in and out of the pool.”
“London was a great opportunity for me to learn what I did wrong. Hopefully that will provide me with a really strong base for the next four years going into Rio.”
Although Nettlefold is happy with the direction the swimmers and coaches are headed he revealed that once a new code of behaviour implemented that behaviour and funding will go hand in hand, ”We are working on a code of behaviour that will form part of the new foundation and part of the regulations in regard to funding for the future.”