James Magnussen Voices Concerns Over His Home State’s Swimming Status

Former world champion James Magnussen of Australia continues to make his opinion known regarding the standing of his nation’s swimming in light of an overall disappointing result in both Rio and Budapest. Most recently at the 2017 World Championships, Australia nearly completed its competition without a single individual gold medal, save for Emily Seebohm’s heroic win in the women’s 200m backstroke.

‘Maggie’, who was one of several high-profile Aussies to have opted out of competing at the event in Budapest, had previously taken to the press to question why Australia hasn’t been leading off the 4×100 free relay with its fastest swimmers. Now, Maggie is also putting Swimming Australia on the defensive regarding attention, both monetarily and coaching-wise, being direction away from his home state of New South Wales (NSW).

Speaking about his birthplace within NSW, Maggie told The Sunday Telegraph, “I have no doubt that if I was swimming as a 16-year-old now in Port Macquarie, I wouldn’t be talent scouted the way that I was back when NSW swimming was a lot more predominant in the scheme of things.

“It’s just identifying those talents, grooming those swimmers to come through and get the best out of their abilities and not lose them to other sports.”

The 26-year-old Olympic medalist continued, “I think the thing I struggled the most with was the neglect of country NSW. They’re falling by the wayside because there are not the structures in place to keep those swimmers coming through.

“There are James Magnussen‘s at every second pool in NSW right up and down the coast. I have no doubt there are hundreds of swimmers in country NSW, and NSW as a whole, who have just as much talent as I ever did but sadly we lose a lot of those.”

In response, a Swimming Australia spokeswoman said, “Swimming Australia is committed to increasing the number of swimmers in New South Wales as well as across the country. Coaches are a vital part of the sport’s success and to help invest in the future generations, Swimming Australia has partnered with the NSW Institute of Sport and Swimming NSW to employ Ron McKeon as the state head coach who is part of a nation-wide coaching leadership team that works closely with Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren.”

According to Swimming NSW’s annual report for the 2016/17 season, its membership figure experienced a 5.8% increase, which translates to 1846 new members. That brings NSW’s total to 33,714, with the report noting particularly strong growth in the regional areas of NSW.

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Magnussen needs to shut his trap until he decided to fully commit to Australia swimming himself.


Amen; sadly the pace of Jimmy’s lip has been appreciably ahead of that of his swimming over the past 2 years. Maybe its a little reflection of his potential future irrelevance, as he is now punted back to being a relay option at best with Chalmers, McEvoy & Cartwright now well ahead of him, that has him brushing up his credentials as a media rentaquote. As for the topic at point; both he and Swimming AUS completely miss the key issue. The sheer expense of supporting a competitive swimmer (even by mid teens) is such that, even with support structures put in place, it is increasingly a sport that only those from more affluent demographics/private schools can continue in the… Read more »


I think it is MacEvoy who needs to prove his competive mettle . James was never 1 sec off his season best & his Inrenatinal medals Golds are multiple Cam’s. In the Budapest relay he was only .2 ahead of Zac .


To put this in a completely objective factual context there was a 2 second difference in 100pbs from 47 to 49 prior to the relay . Jack Kyle James Zac & Cam fighting for a relay spot , I would not necessarily put Cam in anywhere .


Sorry Gina but McEvoy’s 47.04 has proven to be an outlier, just as Magnussen’s time at 2012 Trials so they should probably be treated as such rather than reference points. Incerti has never broken 49 flat start; his 48.28 split in Budapest was good but maybe not enough to cement a finals spot. McEvoy’s 4×200 record IS extremely “equivocal” and any future inclusion in that relay risky but I’d still have him in a 4×100 ahead of Magnussen who’s form-line in this relay at World/Olympic level since 2011 is uninterrupted substandard performance.Barring some miraculous return to swimming sub48 flat start (unlikely); it would be HE who would be fighting against the likes of Incerti & Winnington for the last spot… Read more »


As a struggling parent of an elite teenage swimmer who comes from a regional area I totally agree with you. Despite being a multiple event National medallist we are rapidly reaching the point where we can’t afford to keep our swimmer in the pool. Swimming is a sport for the very wealthy only which sadly we are definitely NOT!


Why is it so expensive in Oz, could you give examples ?


In our experience for country kids in Australia to get to the elite level it means that the swimmer or family need to move to one of the High Performance Centres in the larger cities but there is no College scholarship etc to help support this move. Each swimmer then pays coaching fees,physio, massage etc & if they have to make a move from home boarding fees or rent etc but very limited financial support offerred to anyone other than the already elite. My swimmer has won over 16 National Age group medals but has not been identified by Swimming Australia as a caterogised athlete who displays podium potential at the elite level so receives no assistance. The issue really… Read more »


I should also add that the drop off of youth talent then directly impacts the top level as in many events for example men’s 200 back, there are no swimmers putting pressure on the top 2 ie Larkin & Beaver …. they know they can make the team without continual improvement. The competition to just to make the team like there is in the US has gone except in a few events! Probably doesn’t help that SA continued to fund many who didn’t even make the World Championship Team. Complacency rules in Team Aus


Thanks for replying


He’s not wrong. Swimming in NSW is in a very bad place, with nearly all of the national team coming from QLD. This should not be the case given the size of the state, and the fact that Sydney is in it.


We might want to jump on Magnussen for always being on the attack. But Australia has been struggling for years now, and we have been hoping for a rebuilding which doesn’t appear to be happening. Instead, they are continuing on a decline. I’ll say for that reason, there’s a problem, and like any organization, management has to take the blame. The old swimmers are a shadow of themselves, and were long before it should have happened, especially if compared with their counterparts from other swimming nations. While they seem to have new up and coming blood, those are few, and if those are badly managed, it will be even worse than it already is. It’s important for swim Australia to… Read more »


Yes, the adminstration of the sport has some significant “cases to answer” and arguably became extremely complacent during the last years of “plenty” … but they are far from alone in AUS Olympic sport. However, I do think many people have a rather inflated and somewhat inaccurate impression on AUS’s historical, and overall, place in the international “scheme of things”. Whilst AUS DOES lie 2nd on the Olympic swimming medals table; the actual reality is that nigh 70% of those gold and overall medals were harvested in 2 periods of maybe 10-15 years each, both being hinged around AUS hosting the Olympics. The first from mid 50s to early 70s; the second from late 90s to end of the 00s.… Read more »

About Loretta Race

Loretta 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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