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GBR Fed Board: System Not Broken

Dec 2, 2012

The following statement has been issued by British Swimming as the board of the federation welcomes the Review Report into Britain's performance in the pool at London 2012:

British Swimming has announced the findings of a Performance Debrief initiated in the wake of results at the London 2012 Olympics which failed to meet the governing body’s expectations and agreed medal target with UK Sport.

Swimming won three medals at the Games while its target had been five. As a result a panel of external and internal specialists was convened to review and understand the reasons behind the performance outcome.

The panel was chaired by Craig Hunter (British Swimming Board member and Chef de Mission for the British Paralympic Team), Bob Bowman (U.S. Coach to Michael Phelps and member of TSE Consulting), Thomas Lurz (German Open Water Olympic Medallist in 2008 and 2012), Conor O’ Shea (Director of Rugby at Harlequins RFC and former English Institute of Sport Director) and Michael Scott (former National Performance Director of British Swimming).

Overall, the Debrief report recognised the fact British Swimming has consistently delivered on all of its medal targets for senior team events since the start of the quadrennial cycle up to London 2012. It cited shortfalls in London as being the exception, not the rule, and as a result the primary focus of the Debrief was on the period post the selection trials (March 2012) through to the Games.

The consensus of the Debrief is that the British Swimming World Class Programme is broadly delivering its objectives and has the right programme elements, initiatives and systems in place.

Panel Chairman Craig Hunter explained: “Put simply, the programme is not broken and doesn’t require a major overhaul or radical change of direction. However, the process has highlighted a number of thematic areas where there were some shortcomings in technical leadership, in delivery, or where systems and processes in place did not function as well as they should, particularly over the final period of the quadrennial cycle.

“It is clear from the consultation completed that no one single factor is responsible for shortfalls in the number of medals won in London but a combination of a number of the thematic issues identified did affect the performance of some athletes.”

The British Swimming Board considered the Performance Debrief Report at its meeting on 30th November where discussions focused on the key appointments of a National Performance Director and Head Coach, the timing of the National Trials in relation to the year’s major event, and athlete performance progression from the National Trials to the focus event of the cycle.

Welcoming the conclusion of the Debrief and the British Swimming Board’s recommendations, British Swimming Chief Executive David Sparkes said: “Words fail me in expressing our disappointment with the results from the London Olympics. So many people worked so hard in the last four years but we didn’t achieve our goals.

“I welcome the conclusion of the Performance Debrief and am grateful to Craig Hunter and his team for the excellent report they have produced together with the clear recommendations they have made.

“The Report gives a clear indication the overall structure and strategy within British Swimming is correct, however, we also need to make changes and some significant improvements. Both the British Swimming Board and I are committed to implementing these.

“Today we start a worldwide search for a new National Performance Director and Head Coach for the programme. It will be this new leadership team’s job to drive forward these recommendations and we will look to appoint as quickly as possible.

“Meanwhile I must express my deep disappointment that Michael Scott (former National Performance Director) felt unable to continue as I felt his leadership over the past five years has been truly world class.”

The Debrief process took place through September and October 2012 and followed an agreed six phased methodology comprising statistical analysis and a range of consultation activities with more than 80 stakeholders including athletes, coaches and staff.