Swimming Australia has elected Barclay Nettlefold as the organization’s new president, they announced Saturday morning.
Nettlefold takes the torch from David Urguhart who served his maximum two terms as the head of the board before stepping down over the weekend. He has left his successor with many challenges, notably a disappointing performance by the Australian men at the Olympics, and discontentment among the athlete ranks over the current funding structure.
He acknowledged these challenges, at least in part, in his initial comments as chief. “I’m extremely proud and honoured to have been given this opportunity to lead our sport at this time, and would like to thank the stakeholders for their support,” said Nettlefold.“There are some great people involved in our sport from the volunteer level at every club in the country, to coaches and administrators, and of course the athletes.
“Swimming is a sport of huge national interest and has a proud history of success in and out of the water. We face some challenges at the moment, most evidently in performance, but with every challenge there is an opportunity to improve. The review into our sport is already underway and I’m encouraging the stakeholders within our sport to embrace it.”
Also elected to terms among the Board of Directors were former Olympian Nicole Livingstone, Nunawading Swim Club CEO Gary Barclay, and former Kawana Waters Swim Club CEO Graeme Johnson. Both Johnson and Nettlefold advance from the world of commercialism, having held major roles in different corporations.
Nettlefold’s most recent role has been as the CEO and Director of Queensland Masters Swimming, according to his profile on the site linkedin. Prior to that, he was the CEO of News Outdoor Southeast Asia, a marketing firm that dealt largely in billboards.
The initial response from the athletes has been positive, with Olympian Meagen Nay tweeting: “Good news for Swim Aus, new President and [Nicole Livingstone] on the board!! Moving forward. Looking forward to working with these guys!”
Nettlefold is already hard at work on repairing relations with the ASA, the organization that represents Australian athletes. After meeting with their leadership for the first time, he said “Team ASA: Your input at the AGM and Forum yesterday was moving. Thank you! Extremely well received by all the stakeholders,” and referring to the ASA as a “priority on his watch”.
Meanwhile, Swimming Australia has set up a website to manage their independent review of the sport’s perceived challenges at the Olympics: http://www.independentswimmingreview.com/. There, they are making an open call for submissions, both anonymous and otherwise, from the sports stakeholders. They are hoping that the ability to report without a name attachment will allow coaches and athletes to more freely submit their concerns without the fear of retribution.
Swimming will also be seeking input from specific, targeted stakeholders in their quest in a separate process.