There could be a lot of change in store for swimming in Australia.
Although not a surprise, the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Leisel Jones will announce her retirement tomorrow.
Lethal Leisel became one of the faces of the revival of swimming in Australia. She became the first Australian female swimmer to compete in four straight Olympic Games (attending her first in 2000 as a 15-year-old) and collected medals in each appearance.
2000 – Silver – 100 breast and 4 x 100 medley relay
2004 – Bronze – 100 breast
2008 – Gold – 100 breast and 4 x 100 medley relay, Silver – 200 breast
2012 – Silver – 4 x 100 medley relay
Heading into the 2012 Olympic Games she was highly criticized by many in the media for being unprepared, referencing photographs of the swimming icon whose appearance was less than flattering. Despite that criticism Jones’ teammates and coaches came to her defence, calling the media’s conduct disgraceful.
Jones’ retirement comes on the heels of an announcement by Swimming Australia that they will be launching an independent review into the sports culture after its poorest showing at an Olympic Games since 1992; 2012 was the first time they failed to earn individual gold in a games since 1976.
This is not the first time that Swimming Australia has had to do some serious navel gazing after an embarrassing performance. After earning only three medals at the 1988 Olympics, one of each color, legendary coach Don Talbot was hired to get the program back on track.
When taking the job, Talbot announced to the world that the Aussies would eventually surpass the Americans as the world’s top swimming nation. At the 2001 World Championships his goal was achieved when the Australians won 13 golds compared to nine by the United States.
Can Australian Swimming make the same kind of comeback they did after Barcelona?
Time will tell.