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BSCTA express concerns over GB Olympic Team staff selections

Aug 7, 2000

The British Swimming Coaches & Teachers Association has expressed "grave concerns" over the selection of a foreign coach to the team staff for the Team GB Olympic Swim Team. Gary Vandermeulen, the husband and coach to medal hopeful Alison Sheppard was selected to give Alsion every possible chance in her quest to win a medal in the 50 Freestyle at the Games. Gary and Alison live and train in Canada and the BSCTA are concerned that various British coaches of medal hopefuls have been displaced in favour of Gary.

Letter from BSCTA to Selection Committee

Re: Selection of Coaches Appointed to the GB Olympic Team for Sydney

Dear Craig,

I write on behalf of the British Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association to express our Association's grave concerns and dismay at the selection of a foreign coach, Gary Vandermeulen, as one of the British Team Coaches for the Olympic Games in Sydney 2000.

As an Association representing the interests' of British coaches, we feel Gary's selection as an official member of the British team coaching staff should not have been made in preference to a British based coach.

As an Association we appreciate the importance of Gary being present to provide specific support to his swimmer whose world ranking and medal potential is fully recognised. We also appreciate that currently, there is no provision for gaining daily access to, or accreditation for the training venues once the swimmers move into the Olympic Village. For Gary and his swimmer, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that the women's 50 metres freestyle event does not take place until the end of the Olympic Programme. Any presence Gary should have, however, should, be as an "additional" coach with the team and not one where he clearly displaces a British based coach.

Our Association believes that so far as the British swimming coaching fraternity is concerned, the issues at stake here are the following:-

  • There are coaches based in Britain with swimmers ranked only just below the swimmer in question, who have earned the right to be included on the GB Team Staff through both their previous involvement and their ongoing contribution to improving the standards of British swimming.
  • Indeed two of these, Tim Jones and Nick Selwood, have swimmers currently World ranked 7th and 8th respectively as compared to the 5th placed ranked swimmer of Gary Vandermeulen.
  • It is our considered opinion that one or other of these coaches should have been given precedence for appointment as Team Staff over Gary Vandermeulen.
  • Either of these coaches would also have been in a much better position to make a more positive contribution to coaching other members of the team because of their past experience and knowledge as National Team Staff.
  • We also believe that this could act as an unwelcome precedent for such appointments in the future, so creating a demoralising effect overall on home based coaches.

In light of the above, I would ask that this appointment be re-considered and/or that very strenuous representation be made to the BOA to either:

  1. Increase the number of Team Coaching Staff or
  2. To acquire day pass access to the training and the competition venues throughout the Games for the other coaches with swimmers in individual events.

Yours Sincerely

Dave Heathcock - President BSCTA
PP Colin Stripe - Secretary BSCTA