Sunday, 25 November 2012
Michael Scott resigns - British Swimming at a crossroads
Following British Swimming's underwhelming performance in London this summer, Michael Scott has fallen on his sword and resigned from his post as National Performance Director.
Scott could not accept living in Britain permanently, which really does not seem like such a big thing to ask of someone reportedly making £1.2m. It is even more startling that he was able to spend half of his time in Australia since he started in his role back in 2007. It becomes less of a surprise when you realise David Sparkes, the CEO of British Swimming, also splits time between Britain and his adopted homeland of Germany and has done for several decades.
Scott seems like a perfectly pleasant guy, very capable in some facets of the position, but ultimately he didn't get the job done at a home Olympics, which is an unforgivable failure given Britain's success in other major sports.
British Swimming is at a crossroads and they now have two key roles to fill, Head Coach and Performance Director... many would argue they should have three roles to fill with David Sparkes, unpopular with some high profile members of the British Swimming fraternity, also being made to stand down.
It is vital that British Swimming get these hires right. They have spent the last decade under foreign rule and in that time we have undoubtedly improved in certain areas, but after seeing a team that to the outside world appeared to be more nervous than raring to go in London, it seems like the time for some home grown, British based appointments is nigh.
Head Coach Candidates
Bill Furniss - Nova Centurion head coach (coach of Rebecca Adlington)
Coaching Britain's most successful swimmer gives Furniss tremendous gravitas and having headed up Nova Centurion for many years would presumably relish one last challenge at the forefront of British Swimming. Has had a swimmer on every British team at major championships for the last 30 years. Possesses no shortage of northern grit, which some feel Britain needs to get back to post-Bill Sweetenham.
Jon Rudd - Plymouth Leander head coach (coach of Ruta Meilutyte)
Rudd has built Plymouth Leander into the country's leading swimming team having won the Arena League four out of the last five years. He was also the only British-based coach to have a gold medal winning swimmer in London, Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte. Rudd's stock has risen more than any other coach in the last 6 months and if he wants the job, he would offer an intriguing option for British Swimming.
Dave Haller - City of Cardiff head coach (former coach of David Davies)
A left-field option given his criticism of Kevin Renshaw and British Swimming in the over-training of David Davies. Not many British coaches can match up to the experience and continued success that Haller has had at Cardiff. His outspoken nature would stand no chance with the current hierarchy, but if David Sparkes resigns it might open the door.
Patrick Miley - Garioch head coach (coach of Hannah Miley)
Miley has produced on the Britain's premier swimmers, his daughter Hannah, despite not having any of the luxuries provided by the bigger swimming establishments. He is also a proponent of cutting-edge training techniques, which British Swimming might want to expose to a wider group. If the goal is also to make the team tougher and more race hardened, Hannah Miley is one of the toughest swimmers around and races more than anyone.
Performance Director Direction
Swimming's own Dave Brailsford?
One possible direction for Performance Director could be to try and emulate cycling's highly successful approach. Dave Brailsford was a professional cyclist for 4 years before he went on to study sport science and psychology. He then joined British Cycling as an advisor and worked his way through the ranks. It is a potentially risky move, but if there is a young, intelligent, forward-thinking employee within British Swimming, why not give them a shot? There is certainly no shortage of sports science graduates in Loughborough.
An outsider from a different sport?
If there is no obvious domestic candidate with a proven success in swimming, so we could potentially hire someone that has experienced success in another sport. Poaching someone from one of Britain's successful sports (rowing, cycling, athletics, cricket) is a very real possibility. The fact that Conor O'Shea, the Director of Rugby at Harlequins, is sitting on the review board indicates that British Swimming is starting to be open to input from other sports.
Back to the international talent pool
There is a school of thought amongst some in the swimming community that Britain's lack of success was not down to Michael Scott, in which case having a foreign performance director might not be the problem. Despite the expected funding cuts, the money that British Swimming will throw at this position could lure a number of high profile candidates from swimming's successful nations.
Burn it all down
It's all broken. Nothing works. Everyone needs to be fired. Burn the whole thing down and rebuild British Swimming from the ground up. Not my personal view, but it is an opinion shared by some in the swimming community.
We will learn more when the review into the failure of London 2012 is released on December 6.