‘Australian Swimming Framework’ Launched To Better Define Athlete Paths

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.

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So disappointing to see that there is no category for elite youth to ensure there are opportunities to keep them in the sport. The Aus Uni team is not even an option every year & partially self funded. The gap between even T4 which is basically aimed at elite juniors ie girls turning 17 & boys turning 18 to E1 Senoir elite representation is massive. How do SA intend to keep youth swimmers 18 + year olds in the sport of swimming….. do they all need to to the College system in the USA? NO wonder the talent pool for elite representation in Australia is so small, youth swimmers are not even considered in Swimming Australia’s long term planning.

Southern Orca

If you’re a 17/18 yr old in Qld (top heavy with junior talent through development and migration)and just behind the standout athletes in your events you’re in no mans land. Not the funding once you’ve left school . Plenty of good coaches but very little support from any of the Universities. A couple of random big $ scholarships or more funding to established Dolphin team members who are already receiving funding from government sources. You can be ranked top 3 and be lucky to get a discount on gym membership at uni let alone anything else. I believe Athletics Australia embraces the opportunities available for track and field athletes to develop in the USA college system . Maybe some middle… Read more »


Do you think this is what SAL actually want to happen. Let the US system fund them for 4 years & then they come back as physically mature athletes with a known potential?????

Southern Orca

If you track down the official Swimming Australia document re scholarships in USA they seem to spend a lot of time highlighting the difficulties/possible negatives to me.

Southern Orca

Sporting history is full of the “It will never happens”. An Australian winning the Tour De France, A British player winning Wimbledon and in swimming an African American winning a gold medal in swimming. One of these major trials in Australia a swimmers going to come back from the USA college system overcome the known hurdles and it will all change


They’re not forth coming with any other options though are they….. very disappointing for Aussie youth swimmers


I honestly don’t think many Australian swimmers could handle the discipline . When you are on schol you have obligations to train & race & not merely there to ogle the football team.

There are very few even slightly minimal successes in ncaa. It just doesn’t work for them .

Mini bus

More high performance managers sitting around a table trying to justify their position.
What a load of crap. Let’s keep it simple look a were we are weak and work on it.
AUS needs a teir below the national team were swimmers can move in and out of at different stages of the careers. University level swimming needs to funded and supported to provide the missing link between age and open. Unfortunately the powers that be can’t and don’t want to. Our luck is running out and the cost to keep open swimming going is coming to an end.


All the youth $$ being spent on 3 or 4 youth swimmers at the AIS who are on full scholarships for years with all expenses covered including full board, coaching Physio etc etc while everybody else gets nothing.

About Loretta Race

Loretta Race

Loretta grew up outside Toledo, OH, where she swam age group and high school. Graduating from Xavier University, she stayed in the Cincinnati, OH area and currently resides just outside the city in Northern KY.  Loretta got back into the sport of swimming via Masters and now competes and is …

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