New coach confident of making most of talent pool

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The Independent Online

As the FA announced Sven Goran Eriksson to turn around the fortunes of the national game on Tuesday, Bill Sweetenham arrived from Australia to begin his tenure as British swimming's National Performance Director.

As the FA announced Sven Goran Eriksson to turn around the fortunes of the national game on Tuesday, Bill Sweetenham arrived from Australia to begin his tenure as British swimming's National Performance Director.

Both squads are in the doldrums after dreadful summer campaigns - an early exit from Euro 2000 was better than the hapless footballers deserved and the swimmers returned from the Sydney Olympics without any medals for the first time since 1936.

David Sparkes, chief executive of the Amateur Swimming Association, has always wanted to appoint an Australian to lead British swimming.

Yesterday, he played the role of Adam Crozier as he announced he had got his man. "Bill Sweetenham brings a lifetime of experience and achievement to Great Britain which British Swimming will undoubtedly benefit greatly from," he said. "He'll build on the work already done by Deryk Snelling and most importantly he brings a fresh approach to lead us into the Olympic Games in 2004."

Sweetenham spent 10 years as head coach at the Australian Institute of Sport, is a four-time Olympic head coach and was voted Australian coach of the year three times. He has also been in charge of the Australian junior programme which helped to develop one of the biggest names of world swimming, Ian Thorpe.

While the ASA hopes Sweetenham can unearth a British equivalent, he is under no illusions about his task.

"We have to understand that either we change our philosophy or we accept mediocrity," Sweetenham said. "We are only two or three years into a cycle that will take at least 12 years and the No 1 priority now is access to pools.

"We need to bring in new swimmers and coaches from the base and identify those at the top who are going to produce. Then we have to give them the opportunity, the support they feel they need and recognise and reward top performances."

Working under Sweetenham as Britain's new director of youth programmes will be John Atkinson, who takes up his post on 1 February.

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