Less than 50 people showed interest in the " Olympic Debriefing" held in Birmingham on September 22, with just 15 of these being coaches and 3 being swimmers. Fortunately this apathy in the team' s performance was not held by Deryk Snelling.
Snelling, who returns to Britain after nearly three decades in Canada as one of their top coaches, became the first Director of Performance for Great Britain on October 1. He managed to take time out of house hunting to listen to the comments of those present.
Bill Furniss, chief coach in Atlanta, believes it could be eight years, not four, before we see any significant improvement in British performances at major events. Snelling is a little more optimistic, maintaining that he can see major advances in five years.
After the disappointments of Barcelona in 1992, no four- year plan was put into place. " We treated each major games as a one - off event," claims Furniss, who was given his Olympic role just 18 months before the Games.
Snelling' s first job will be to put his plans for Sydney 2000 into operation, but as Furniss admits " a national program should be fully supported." Achieving the support of all British coaches will be Snelling' s first and possibly hardest task.
Helen Don Duncan won 200 backstroke at 1996 European Juniors.
Will she break the pattern?
For larger 64k photo click on image. Photo © Marco Chiesa
" We have some great kids," comments Snelling, a statement endorsed by all involved in the sport. But the challenge will be to keep them and not allow them to shrink into retirement like former European junior champions Martin Carl and Daniel Combes, hand to stop the drift to America due to lack of financial support. Another European junior champion, Stephen Parry, had to do this to pursue his sport and academic career.
The one item that was 100% supported was the call for the British Trials to be held over exactly the same program and number of days as the Olympic Games, with the length of time between heats and finals similar to the actual event.