2012 Swammy Award: Australian Club/Coach of the Year, John Fowlie

by SwimSwam Staff 0

December 25th, 2012 Australia, International, News

The Man:

John Fowlie

The Team:

Australian Institute of Sport

His Charges:

Alicia Coutts and James Roberts

The Count:

1 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze

The Olympics

The Aussies had a disappointing Olympics coming home with only 10 medals in swimming events; 1 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze. Their brightest star of the games was 25 year old Alicia Coutts. Coutts collected five medals, winning gold in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay, silver in the 200 IM, 4 x 200 freestyle relay and 4 x 100 medley relay along with a bronze in the 100 butterfly.

The 25 year old Fowlie comes from a coaching family, both of Fowlie’s parents Jim and Lynn are extremely successful coaches in their own right. In fact Jim Fowlie was also a coach at the AIS at one point in his career.

Fowlie also coached 21 year old James Roberts who was part of the Aussies 4 x 100 freestyle relay that finished fourth behind France, the United States and Russia.

A Very Tight Race

It was not easy to pick the Honourable Mentions in this category deserve a write up of their own.

Michael Bohl coached Bronte Barratt to a bronze in the 200 freestyle and a silver in the 4 x 200 freestyle relay, along with Leisel Jones who won silver in the 4 x 100 medley relay. Bohl put nine swimmers on the Olympic team and his St. Peters Western squad came second at the Australian Nationals in March. He also coached Tae Hwan Park who won two Olympic silver in both the 200 (tying with Sun Yang) and 400 freestyle.

Brant Best coached James Magnussen to an Olympic silver in the 100 freestyle and an Olympic bronze in the 4 x 100 medley relay. Best also placed five swimmers on the Olympic team and his Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Club came sixth at the Australian National Championships.

The Controversy

Although Fowlie guided the most successful Australian swimmer at the Olympics, two other Australian coaches had even greater success mentoring Chinese athletes.

Sun Yang who was extremely impressive in London, winning the 1500 freestyle in world record time along with winning the 400 freestyle in Olympic record time and tying Taehwan Park for the silver in the 200 freestyle. Australian Dennis Cotterell of the Miami Swim Club was the one who guided him to these performances.

Yi Shiwen who stunned the world by winning the 400 IM in the fashion she did breaking a world record in the process, followed by another win in Olympic record in the 200 IM. Shiwen was also coached by an Australian Ken Wood, which out of the three Australian coaches who lead swimmers from other countries to the medal podium may have been the most controversial considering that the silver medalist in the 200 IM was Australian Alicia Coutts.

Both coaches also placed swimmers on the Australian Olympic Team: Cotterell coaching Jade Neilsen and Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Wood having coached Melissa Gorman.

Some Australians were none too happy with Bohl, Cotterell or Wood for their contributions towards other countries success when the Australians results were disappointing.

Both Wood and Cotterell were quoted on the situation in a Financial Review article,“China pay four times what I get from my Australian swimmers. It would frighten you if I told you the amount,” said Wood.

Cotterell told ABC that the Chinese are “brilliant workers and they apply themselves like most other people don’t.”

The Aftermath

Swimming was not the only sport where Australian coaches guided foreigners to success in London, and because of this one of the main aspects of the new direction in Australian sport, “The Winning Edge”, has an emphasis on putting increased resources and higher priority on developing and retaining the coaching talent within its own borders.

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