Even before the 2016 Rio Olympics where the nation of Australia saw its poorest Summer Games showing since 1992, Swimming Australia’s brain trust was working on ways to increase collaboration and information-sharing among its widespread resources.
Back in May of 2016, Aussie Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren told SwimSwam that, “By creating better accessibility, better availability within the existing system I think that is going to be the biggest improvement in Australia. So it will guarantee more consistency in the training environment of the athletes and in the coaching.” The need for an organizational mindset change was made even more apparent after Rio, where despite being pegged to win anywhere from 8 to 11 gold medals in Rio, the Australian pool contingency swam away with just 3.
As such, in the post-Rio wake, Swimming Australia has worked with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) to introduce what is dubbed the ‘Australian Swimming Framework’ (ASF), which is essentially an outline of every aspect of a swimmer’s career pathway. According to the organization, ‘implementation of the ASF will see a stronger alignment of talent, resources and effort of all contributors in the national system that currently deliver High Performance swimming.’
The ASF breaks athletes into 3 distinct categories of ‘non-elite’, ‘pre-elite’ and ‘elite, with each then drilled down even more specifically. For instance, with ‘elite’, athletes are then segmented into an E1 Senior Elite pathway, an E2 Senior Elite Success pathway, or an M1 Sustained Elite Success pathway. Within the designated pathway, an athlete, parent, coach or service provider can view the athlete profile, environmental support, system leadership and research and innovation attributes and expectations for that particular athlete’s journey.
Verhaeren says that this much detail is essential in maintaining high performance swimming within the nation of Australia. “The ASF is a vital step in our pursuit of the winning edge in elite sport and important for our member base as we continue to grow swimming at all levels of participation.
“High Performance should not be a secret. We have worked hard to document and define what High Performance looks like in action along the journey to become elite, and have been applying the framework to our national programs for some time now.
“We believe that the ASF will drive the future of the Performance Pathway in Australia,” Verhaeren said.
This new ASF ‘guidebook’ of sorts will be updated annually, and the intention is for it to be applied across Swimming Australia’s development programs, high performance programs, state swimming association development programs, as well as throughout Swimming Australia’s coach education and accreditation.
The entire ASF program can be viewed here.