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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Crisis Creates Opportunity In Australia

If there is one sport that Australia is known for in the Olympics, it is swimming. A highly decorated country with a relatively small population, Australian swimmers have consistently performed extremely well on the Olympic stage.

The outstanding Olympic performances of swimmers from Down Under have raised expectations for all generations of Australian swimmers, their supporters and fans. Over the history of the modern Olympics, swimming has provided 59 of Australia’s 142 Olympic gold medals.

In London, those high expectations were not met. As a result, an introspective independent look at its swimming program was called for and initiated with a focus was primarily on the pool swimmers.

In addition, former national open water swimming team manager and official Chris Guesdon asked to submit his recommendations to an independent swimming review committee for Swimming Australia regarding how open water swimming fits into the current national governing body structure in Australia.

The architect and visionary of the Olympic 10km Marathon Swim, Guesdon submitted the following recommendations to the swimming review committee which is independent from Swimming Australia. "Open water swimming needs all the help we can get to have someone listen to us in Australia," commented Guesdon. Following the 2012 London Olympic Games, Swimming Australia decided to have a review of its performance at the Olympics with an independent panel to hold proceedings (see here and here).

"Open water Swimming events outside of Swimming Australia's jurisdiction will continue to go along as usual with events held all over the country and will continue to grow in number; however, it would be desirable if Australia could be at least competitive once again in major international competitions as we have been in past years," recommended the well-traveled Guesdon.

"...[the] lack of recognition the open water swimming discipline receives within the SAL system and for open water swimmers...reflects our overall competitiveness in international competitions and thus our poor results. Our talented open water swimmers cannot reach their potential at major events while pool swimming is favoured in funding and programming policies."

In summary, Guesdon presented an eye-opening recommendation. "Open water swimming should exit from Swimming Australia and have their own organization as is the case with Masters Swimming, Water Polo, Diving and Synchronized Swimming."

Copyright © 2012 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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