Leadership team sets out streamlined swimming plans
26th June 2013
British Swimming’s National Performance Director Chris Spice and Head Coach Bill Furniss outlined their plans for the future of the sport on eve of the British Gas Swimming Championships in Sheffield.
“We’ve been in post for three months now and we are clear with what needs to be done,” said Spice. "There has been a cut in funding but from my point of view we still have targets to achieve. Without National Lottery support, and through the support of the public, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in now. What we need to do now is ensure value for money across the programme.
“Both Bill and I agree we have to get more bang for our buck and from that point of view we are looking at the structure of the programme post-summer and there will be some changes. But as far as we are concerned this summer will look after itself.
"The key for us is that our decisions and impacts that we want will be post-summer, in September," NPD Chris Spice“We’ve made a few tweaks ahead of the World Championships but given that we haven’t been in post very long it will be what it will be. The key for us is that our decisions and impacts that we want will be post-summer, in September.
“That’s not to say for a minute we think that this year is not important – it is and we will be focusing on getting the best results we can. We have some good staff in the programme, some excellent support staff around the programme and the key for us will be to turn those very good staff into world class staff so we can start to deliver on the ground.
“There is a lot to get my teeth into; particularly three areas - coaching, psychology and competition structure.
“Not enough investment has been made into the development of our coaches. We have some good coaches and some world class coaches – we want to give them all the opportunity to become world class.
“We will increase resource into sports psychology, not just focusing on pressure competition preparation but also what it means to be part of the team and wearing the GB kit.
“Both the domestic and international competition calendars will be looked at to make sure that the competition structure gives our swimmers the best opportunity to compete at world class levels.”
The streamlined approach has already been adopted in the selection policy for the FINA World Championships 2013 which will be held in Barcelona at the end of July, and Furniss firmly believes that the reduction in team size will raise the bar in terms of performance.
“We have hit the ground running and covered a lot of ground to really get a feel of where everything was,” explained Furniss. “We have spoken to a lot of swimmers and coaches about their feelings post-London, we’ve looked at the structures in place and what coaching talent we have.
"We have a reduction in funding but that isn't a negative thing - it allows for a more concentrated programme," Head Coach Bill Furniss“Our outlook ahead will be to run a smaller, tighter ship that is performance driven. We have had a reduction in funding but that isn’t a negative thing, it allow for a more concentrated programme.
“We will still have a good sized team for the World Championships but what we want to see is more people achieving the qualifying standard than there are spaces on the team. We need to focus on the Olympic events, where we are ultimately judged on. Having tougher selection policies will mean everyone has to swim faster to make those teams, raising levels of performance.”
New structures will be introduced in British Swimming in September following the World Championships, not least in the athlete investment.
Spice explained: “We will move on from funding athletes for merely swimming times. It will be a focus on the context of why they are swimming such times, looking at the physicality, their trainability – we’re getting a good overall picture to see where our investments need to be made.”
The Intensive Training Centres will be utilised more. Furniss intends to hold more team camps onshore with a national programme to support individual preparation.
“It’s a difficult balance but one we have to do to be at a World Class Level,” he said.
Furniss and Spice will also be using the experience of Britain’s most successful swimmer of all time, Rebecca Adlington, to improve the programme moving forwards.
“We will be speaking to Rebecca this week to get her input into the programme. With her record of four medals in four Olympic finals, she certainly has experience to share to help us drive up performances,” said Furniss.
“London hurt and we need to deliver on public money. There are a lot of talented swimmers and coaches on the programme – that showed in the number of finalists we had in London – but we now need to build on that with our new programme. We have picked ourselves up, learnt from it and now we’re moving on.”