After leading British Swimming through 6 Olympic games, CEO David Sparkes will step down at the end of the this month. Still actively involved in aquatics, he is set to join the FINA Bureau this year.
“It has been a huge honour and a privilege to lead British Swimming over the past 23 years. There have been some memorable highs, there have been some disappointing lows but I’m confident that I leave British Swimming in a strong position for the future.” Sparkes reflects on his career, “Looking back I believe the greatest legacy of my term has been the major change in our talent programs across our funded sports which delivered unparalleled Olympic and Paralympic success last summer.”
Sparkes has been involved in swimming for the past 45 years and has been Chief Executive for the past 23 years. With British Swimming, Sparkes organized world class programs through National Lottery Funding, saw the team to its highest results at an Olympic Games in over 100 years, and lead the Paralympic team to their best results in history this past summer.
Sparkes has received criticism in the past, highlighted by a public letter from Tom Daleys mom, and an open letter criticizing lack of limitation on meet entries at the European Masters meet. Despite the pushback, Sparkes successfully managed to make the Rio Olympics one of British Swimming’s best showings yet.
The British 2016 Olympic Team left Rio with one gold and five silver medals. This is the most successful Olympic performance for British Swimming since 1908. That is a huge bounce back from a disappointing home games, finishing London 2012 with two bronze medals and one silver.
“I wanted to see British Swimming delivering medal success from day one back in 1994,” reflected Sparkes,“We were a long way from that at the time and, whilst I would have liked it to come sooner, I was told it would take a while for a successful system to bear fruit and it did.”
With Sparkes retiring on June 30th, Ian Mason will fill in until Jack Buckner takes on his new role as Chief Executive on October 1.
“What we saw our sports deliver in Rio last summer was remarkable with best-ever results across the board, however, I firmly believe there is more to come as the potential within the sports has never looked so strong.” Commented Sparks, “I am sure under the new leadership we will see British Swimming move on to even greater success.”