Britain's coaches will not know how to set their training cycles for the coming year until after a new head coach and new performance director have been appointed by British Swimming and those two top folk have had time to implement the recommendations for change made by a review panel that considered what next for the London 2012 host nation in the wake of a home Games that produced three medals in the pool. The federation says it will "start" its search today - hope resting in swift appointments of British candidates already familiar with a programme deemed not to be broken but in need of some serious tweaks.
The following recommendations have been made to the board of British Swimming by the Review Panel considering how to respond to Britain's underperformance in the pool at a home Games in London this past summer.
From research and consultations, the Debrief drew the following conclusions:
There were clear areas of strength, and a number of areas of weakness in the specific preparations for London 2012 - Strengths relate to the planning of the programme, and specific events and initiatives resulting from this. Weaknesses relate to coaching and technical leadership in the main and the knock on impact and "fallout" from this
Below expected performance was not due to any one specific shortcoming in any discrete element of the Programme. But there are some areas that need addressing - these include the selection policy and the trials process improved communication and further development of the performance planning and athlete monitoring regimes currently in place
Some changes, alterations or additions to the programme running up to London 2012 were partly and collectively responsible for lower than expected performance. There were isolated instances where additional support was not as targeted as it could be, too much flexibility was afforded without a guiding framework in some cases and some deviation from tried and tested training and preparation plans resulted from this
Below expected performance overall was not attributable to poor planning overall across the programme. Robust and appropriate event planning was a key strength across the quadrennial and in the run up to the Games, but there were some examples where plans were not executed as effectively as they could have been
The overall theme from looking at the positive outcomes is that those athletes performing well had a clear plan guiding their preparation and stuck to it
There are few additional initiatives, programmes or specific areas of support that were not provided that would have led to improved performance outcomes at the Games, but a recognition that some of the areas could have been more appropriately targeted in hindsight
Some external factors that may have affected expectations and actual performance arguably should these have been anticipated and activity put in place to mitigate against any negative impact - there were a number of aspects relating to the ‘home crowd’ and commercial distractions that should have been anticipated better.
The Debrief also highlighted a number of positive outcomes from the London Olympics.
Away from the Games, the Debrief also highlighted “good health” indicators that the World Class Programme is building a significant base for success in the future. There has been a large increase in both European Junior market share and Senior world top 150 market share. The number of swimmers inside the Top 16 has almost doubled in the same period. Looking forward Great Britain already has some 59 swimmers who have achieved at least one FINA A qualification standard for the 2013 World Championships.
Overview of Recommendations and Actions
Two fundamental key actions are required:
Additional recommendations and actions required:
British Swimming’s executive and technical leadership must drive the cultural change required to ensure the panel’s recommendations are delivered, and to develop the appropriate communication structures that are required.
Secure changes to the timing and format of the selection trials and the implications of these changes are understood and planned for accordingly
Ensure training and preparation activity includes a focus on improving progression rates
Improve and enforce the self-management regime of athletes
Explore how to establish Intensive Training Centres (ITC) as centres of applied learning and how clubs within the domestic system may benefit from this
Develop a clearer Sport Science Sport Medicine (SSSM) strategy which sets out stronger parameters for engagement and development
Develop more bespoke and targeted training and development activities for specific disciplines