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.