The Daily Telegraph has reported that after the poor showing by Great Britain’s National Swim Team at the 2012 London Olympics the country’s High Performance Director Michael Scott resigned in the midst of British Swimmings internal review.
It appears the Brits have followed the same path as the Australians who saw their CEO Kevin Neil’s resign early this week.
Scott who lives in Australia has been criticized both for his absence during Great Britain’s preparation for the games and for the amount of money he has spent travelling back and forth between Australia and Britain as a first class passenger.
He has also been criticized for allowing the Brits environment to become soft because of the lack of time he spent with the team in the country.
Britain seems to have come full circle in this respect. In 2000 they had hired Bill Sweetenham who had been successful in every stop during his coaching career, especially with his work in Australia that saw him as one of the major figures in their rise back to the top of the swimming world.
Sweetenham was continually accused of being too hard, being too strict and expecting too much, but in his time in Britain they went from achieving no medals at the 2000 Olympics to two medals in 2004 and one year after his resignation six medals in Beijing.
Although widely criticized successful coaches such as Ben Titley credit Sweetenham with reviving their struggling program. In an interview with the BBC in 2011 Titley was very clear on this thoughts of why Britain had achieved the success they had in 2008.
“If you want to know what has made the difference to British swimming in the last decade, the answer is Bill Sweetenham,” said national coach Ben Titley
“People will tell you he was a bad thing, especially some of the older athletes, but the brutal fact was that we were not successful until he came in and pulled people up by their belts.”
“He was confident, arrogant, even a pain in the —- but he got results. This is the reality. We are an island and we were acting like one. We were just not competing at international level.”
“Some of the things he did in Athens were crazy,” Titley said. “He got nervous and twitchy and kicked off on the coaches. He was extremely demanding. Some of the athletes and coaches didn’t like the way he spoke to them but it was part of his method to challenge you through adversity. There’s no doubt in my mind that he was what we needed.”
Titley, who is now coaching in Toronto at one of the Canadian National Training Centres had been one of the most successful coaches in the Sweetenham era and beyond. In 2003 he coached James Gibson who became the first British World Champion in 28 years. He went on to coach swimmers who earned 120 international medals at the World, European and Commonwealth Championships.
In 2007 when Sweetenham resigned Scott took over, although successful at the 2008 Olympics that performance was on the back of Sweetenham’s work in the country. Scott is seen as a likeable and popular figure in British Swimming, but unfortunately for the Brits likeable and popular does not always equal success.
It will be interesting to see what type of leader Great Britain will go with this time around.
It has now been rumoured that Scott will take a job in Australia.