New Zealand has sucked one more top-level coach out of Australia, as Bill Sweetenham has agreed to step into New Zealand in a temporary role to work with New Zealand swimmers headed toward the National Championships in mid-March.
Sweetenham’s resume is a lengthy one, including serving as the British High Performance Director from 2000 through 2007. The Aussie native since then has been working in a capacity as a private coaching consultant; now into his mid-60’s, he has been 5 years out of the business of full-time coaching, though he has been residing in Australia.
During his time at the helm of the British team, Sweetenham led them to 18 World Championships: results the team hadn’t seen in decades. Sweetenham is almost single-handedly credited with identifying and developing the talents of one of the greatest generation of British female swimmers including Hannah Miley, and is still viewed by many in the organization as the “godfather” of modern British swimming, from his success in the pool to the landing of the huge British Gas sponsorship that pumps blood into the sport.
“It is important to have a coach who understands the swimmers, the country and what is ahead of them. Bill is one of the most credentialed swimming coaches in the history of the sport and we are pleased he is stepping in to help us out.”
Prior to his time with British Swimming, Sweetenham served from 1995-2000 as the National Youth Team coach in Australia when young swimmers like Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett were making their way through the junior ranks.
Sweetenham’s hiring will be effectively a stop-gap as Swimming New Zealand searches for a permanent replacement for the recently-resigned Mark Regan. The organization, however, didn’t rule out a longer term arrangement with Sweetenham.