New to his role as National Performance Director for swimming at the Royal Spanish Swimming Federation (RFEN), veteran British swim coach Sean Kelly recently gave an insightful interview regarding the overall direction for his new home’s aquatic program.
After having coached three Olympic medalists, including Keri-Anne Payne who took silver at the 2008 Games in Beijing, Kelly brings his wealth of experience and knowledge to try to turn around the Spanish swimming program. The program is in a transition of sorts, with veterans Jessica Vall, Mireia Belmonte and others towards the ends of their careers, while there is no immediate wave of emerging talent to take their place.
Kelly addressed this situation, as well as his high-level tactical plan as he spoke to news outlet Marca recently. You can read the article in its entirety here, but below are some key highlights.
- Kelly points to Australian coaching legend Bill Sweetenham as a primary influence on his career. “I am very grateful to him. He took me from being a ‘junior’ coach. to ‘senior’. It put a lot of pressure and sometimes impossible challenges on me. It was the most difficult thing in my life, but it gave me a lot of knowledge that made me a better coach. You can’t pretend to be the best but you do not assume ambitious levels of demand.”
- Not one to sit at a desk, Kelly also conveys he will be in the field regularly to have a more hands-on approach. “One of my priorities is to be with the coaches in their daily work, visiting them regularly, and see how I can help them, pass on all the information that I am capable of. My job is not to tell them how to do things, but to help them achieve excellence, to indicate what they need to achieve it. I do not intend to impose myself, or confront anyone, but to work together.”
- The selection criteria for the 2020 Olympic Games will not be changing, but Kelly alludes to the fact this will not be the case for Paris 2024. “For Paris it will be another story. After Tokyo it will be the moment when a system will be put in place that can achieve the objectives that we all want.”
- Kelly also holds a realistic viewpoint for the immediate future, stating, “The moment is difficult, nobody is going to hide it. We have to improve gradually and in two or three years we will probably see more people in finals, before we can aspire to medals. Nobody, neither me, thinks of four medals in Tokyo or six in Paris 2024. That would be unreal.”
- Marca reveals that the RFEN has established an agreement with both Sant Andreu and Sabadell clubs to convert them into high-performance centers.