Cate Campbell’s Coach Wants To Keep Medal Contenders Out Of Spotlight

Headed into the 2016 Olympic Games, Australian sprint star Cate Campbell was widely regarded as the gold medal favorite in both the women’s individual 50m and 100m freestyle events. The swimmer fired off a remarkable 51.97 split to help carry her Aussie squad to gold in the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay to kick-off her Rio campaign, but, individually, Campbell faltered.

After having set a world record of 52.06 just weeks before the Rio opening ceremony, Campbell wound up more than a second slower in the individual 100m freestyle event at the Games. As such, Campbell had to settle with finishing 6th in the 100 (53.24) and 5th in the 50 free (24.15). Aussie Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren commented post-race that the disappointing outcomes “can really only put it to nerves and nothing else.”

However, now over two months removed from the Rio ordeal, Campbell’s coach, Simon Cusack, is pointing to another factor as having impacted his protegé’s lackluster outing. In order to minimize pressure on athletes headed into a Games, Cusack tells The Australian that “no key swimmer should hold leadership roles in the team in the two years going into the Olympics.”

“There’s a lot of things that compounded the pressure on her in Rio (Campbell also carried a hernia into the Games) and when it unraveled, it unraveled in a big way. By nature, Cate is a pleaser. She wants to please people, and watching her, it became a chore for her being a spokesperson. When she stood up behind the blocks in Rio, her biggest fear was letting people down who she cares about.’’

Cusack will be meeting with Verhaeren in the coming weeks to further evaluate the squad’s performance. The Commercial coach says that the weeks since Rio have been ‘pretty traumatic’ for his swimmer, which has included Cusack offering guidance to Campbell on finding more of a ‘balance in her life’ moving forward.

“She has tended to become a bit too unbalanced and swimming-focused, so I encouraged her to go skydiving when she was in New Zealand (on holidays), and to find more joy in her life.’’

However, Campbell announced mid-August that she plans on continuing to pursue a 4th Olympic Games. She says she ‘can’t leave her Olympic campaign like this.’

“I want to leave with happy tears. You’re going to have to lock me in for 2020.”

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blah, blah, blah. You think Katie Ledecky didn’t want to win for her coaches, family etc or that there wasn’t any pressure on MP to win? Part of being an Olympic Champion is navigating the pressures of the OGs; You have to deliver when it counts to be great and the past couple of Olympiads the Australians just haven’t been able to do that.


Its time they would come and gets inspired by how the Us does the job ….all year round

New beginnings

+1 for the NCAA system.

Some people like MP and KL are born with it. The rest learned to swim under pressure on the job.

The aussies don’t have anything like that for their non-Thorpes.


Don’t be ridiculous. He’s not giving excuses, he’s merely highlighting a very good point. Not everyone is a Ledecky or a Phelps. Geeze… people are brutal.


He’s absolutely making excuses. That’s the only reason this is out there. Life is full of pressure and to ask the National Team Coach to give the stars of a country two years off from any team responsibilities is absurd. I hope he gets laughed out of his meeting.

Alex Simmonds

I think in this case there are two type of person, first someone who thrive easily under pressure and even surpass the limit that people might think for them. Example such as phelps, ledecky, popov
Second, is the person who will fail miserable under pressure. This kind of person just shouldn’t be put in high expectation.
This is clerly what cate is.

New beginnings

That’s why sports is great. You’ll never take pressure out of the Olympics. The best prepared mentally and physically win.

Cate clearly does many things right. Maybe 999/1000. But someone will always do 1000/1000 so 999 isn’t enough.


So, basically, she and her team need to do a better job of managing her outside of training time/duties to Australian Swimming and her sponsors. Her first duty to Australian Swimming is to stay out of trouble and do her best to win medals, that seems like an “easy” task. The rest, that is on her and her management team to keep her life in check with contractual obligations. I don’t buy the no leadership role position two years before the Olympics. “key swimmers”? So those who don’t have a shot now, on paper, to win gold should fall on the sword and do the work CC couldn’t do? C’mon…

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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