China Daily: Swimming Australia Bans Cotterell From Training Foreigners

Update: Swimming Australia denies China Daily report.

In apparently one of the first conclusions as Swimming Australia tries to rebound from a disappointing Olympic performance, the governing body for aquatics Down Under has banned Denis Cotterell from training foreign athletes, World Record holder Sun Yang told the English-language China Daily.

Cotterell is one of the most heralded distance coaches in history, and began work with Yang in 2010. Since then, Yang has gone on to win a World Championship, China’s first two ever men’s swimming Olympic gold medals, and destroy the World Record in the 1500 free. That’s a mark that previously belonged to another Cotterell prodigy: Grant Hackett. Yang did it with an efficiency of stroke that is unparalleled in the sport, and one that would seem to obviously have been influenced heavily by Cotterell.

Thus far, only the Chinese perspective on the story has been told, and one would imagine that the conversation between Swimming Australia and Cotterell was more intricate, complex, and nuanced than just an outright ban on coaching foreign athletes. No response from Swimming Australia was immediately received on the matter, though it is after business hours there.

This “ban” likely had some caveat about the ability to be a part of Australia’s National program while coaching international athletes, for example, or to receive Swimming Australia subsidies.

In the sense of an outright ban, it would likely result in Australia losing the services of one of their best coaches at a time when their men’s distance group is struggling mightily. That’s because the numbers that have been thrown out for how much China is paying Cotterell to coach Yang are staggering. China Daily reports on rumors that he received a $500,000 bonus for the World Record, and Cotterell has previously said that he makes four-times more per month for training Chinese swimmers than he does with his home club.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, but with that level of success and money on the line, I would predict that Yang and Cotterell will find a way to be together through the next Olympics.

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35 Comments on "China Daily: Swimming Australia Bans Cotterell From Training Foreigners"

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Cottrell should call their bluff – or they should pay him. Better yet – Come to the States Dennis.

Agreed. I’m sure there are more than a few promising young US distance guys who’d jump at the chance to train with him.

That’s messed up.

Wonder what Bob Bowman will be paid to help British Swimming? Will USA Swimming follow Australia and create a similar rule? Not having Bowman around to coach upcoming US swimmers is problematic. In a way these developments are good for the sport because it puts more pressure on organizations to pay the top coaches more to train the countries top athletes. However when you just create new rules to prevent coaches to make additional income it will mean they will jump ship and go where the money is!

Bob Bowman isn’t paid to be a coach, but to review their results and provide insight. A consultant, much like The Bobs who helped Initech in the 90s… Look where all his biggest swimmers have gone (retired, college/back to college). Bob Bowman is also not an employee of USA Swimming or the USOC. NBAC might receive funding from USA Swimming, but unless their 990s say otherwise, he is just another club coach. USA Swimming is not in the situation, based on London’s results, in the same place as Australia. Looking at how the young guns stepped up and 4 years left for up and coming male swimmers to “fill in” for those who are retiring, USA Swimming has no need… Read more »

First, points for the Office Space reference.

As for American swimming, that cat was long gone from the bag in, what?, the late 60s/early 70s when foreign athletes started to show up on NCAA rosters. And there’s really not much USAS can do about that since they’re one of many coaching groups that don’t necessarily follow under USAS sanction.


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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