Sweden has parted ways with their National Team coach Greg Salter, according to a press release.
After only two years at the helm (he was hired in early 2010), the Swedish Swimming Federation has made this move very close to the Olympic year; the headline of the release says that he resigned, but within it gives details that he was actually fired. This is not the first federation to seek new coaching very close to zero-hour; Germany also fired their head coach in the last few months.
The reason for the firing was cited as “Swedish Swimming is facing a new phase of development and therefore need to strengthen the national team and elite swimming with new skills.” We can read between the lines and basically determine that the country’s Olympic committee, which has very strict standards for Olympic qualification, is unhappy with the overall development of the program nationwide.
This has been smoke-screened a bit by the relative success of swimmers like Sarah Sjostrom and Therese Alshammar, but the men’s side of the pool is a perfect illustration of how thin the elite ranks are. What may be just as telling is the fact that Salter, who came in with bigtime backstroke credentials, has left the women’s medley relay as one of the best in the world, aside from the fact that the country is absolutely desolate of backstrokers.
Salter took over the job coming from Australia, where he counted Sophie Adlington among his charges. He was recognized as one of the top club coaches down under before making the jump, and was in 2006 a Telestra Coach of the Year finalist.
His interim replacement will be Ulrika Sandmark, who is currently the head coach of Vasby SS, one of the bigger clubs in Sweden. Among her swimmers there include Gabrielle Fagundez, who is on the Swedish National Team (though not yet the Olympic Team).
“Ulrika has broad support in Swedish swimming and we have every confidence that the National Team in peace and quiet will be able to focus on the successful holding of competitions,” says Swedish SSF Federal Director Bengt Jönsson of his new hire.
Sandmark is expected to hold the position until after the Olympics, when a permanent solution will be hired. For now, he will be tasked with leading the 18-strong European Championships squad into Debrecen in two weeks, as that roster was also announced today. This team is much larger than the one we should expect in London, and is hugely lopsided toward the women (14-4, if you’re keeping score).
A telling figure is that the Swedes have sent all three of their women’s breaststrokers to give all a shot at earning their way onto the Olympic Team. There’s currently a good three-way battle for spots in the 100 between Jennie Johansson, Rebecca Ejdervik, and Joline Hostman, with Johansson as the heavy favorite.
On the men’s side there is of course the great Lars Frolander and Stefan Nystrand. They will be joined by three teammates, comprising a squad of five that’s probably more than will be sent to London. That includes Johannes Skagius who broke a National Junior breaststroke record at the Swedish Grand Prix last weekend.
All eyes will also be on USC-trained Stina Gardell in the 400 IM. She is looking to make her stand among the country’s elite swimmers, and despite her National Record at the Fran Crippen SMOC in California a week ago (also a FINA A time), she has not been put on the Olympic squad.
Michelle Coleman, Täby Sim
Rebecca Ejdervik, Täby Sim
Gabriella Fagundez, Väsby SS
Stina Gardell, Spårvägens SF
Martina Granström, Jönköpings SS
Louise Hansson, Helsingborgs S
Joline Höstman, Mölndals ASS
Jennie Johansson, Upsala S
Nathalie Lindborg, Malmö KK
Ida Marko Varga, SK Triton
Sarah Sjöström, Södertörns SS
Therese Svendsen, SK Ran
Johannes Skagius, Sundsvalls SS
Petter Stymne, SK Neptun
Lars Frölander, Linköpings Allmänna SS
Mattias Carlsson, Uddevalla S
Stefan Nystrand, Spårvägens SF
Simon Sjödin, SK Neptun