SWIMNEWS ONLINE: October 1998 Magazine Articles

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Success Breeds Success

Why The Australians Are So Competitive


Paul Quinlan

The Australian team will perform well in Hong Kong next April (at the World Short Course Championships). There is a positive vibrancy in the Australian swimming fraternity with expectations of Sydney 2000 looming closer each day. It's "just around the next corner" to the Aussie swimmers, coaches, and administrators.

When asked what he was doing to make the "Thorpedo," Ian Thorpe, so fast, veteran coach Doug Frost said, "We're not doing anything new and we're not doing any more mileage than other teams around the world. Success breeds success. Ian has to go faster to stay ahead of Grant Hackett and Grant has to race harder to beat Ian and Daniel Kowalski."

A very valid opinion from a coach with many years experience, and one who has placed a number of swimmers on national teams and had the experience to compare notes with many top coaches.

This competitiveness within the ranks of the swimmers does bring success; other great national teams, particularly the USA and Australian teams of the 50s and 60s were very competitive. The other advantage is that within the Australian coaching fraternity, there is and always has been a corresponding rivalry and sharing of information. The Aussie coaches have a great annual convention, with a strong elite coaching stream as its core.

Talented sports scientists, such as Dr. Warren McDonald (medical), Dr. David Pyne (physiology), Dr. Bob Treffene (physiology), Peter Blanch (physiotherapy), Dr. Bruce Mason (biomechanics), Clark Perry (psychology), and many others in state academies and institutes of sport play a vital role in the planning, preparation, and maintenace of the swimmers' fitness and health.

It also helps enormously if you have a driving force with many years of success at the forefront of international swimming, such as Don Talbot, the current National Head Coach. Talbot was personal coach of the famous Australian brother and sister combination Jon and Ilsa Konrads in the late 1950s and coached swimmers to over 30 Olympic gold medals.

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