Swimming: Britain pulls off coup by signing Pursley for 2012 medals push

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The Independent Online

The former United States team director, Dennis Pursley, has been appointed as the new national head coach of British Swimming in a significant development for the sport.

Pursley starts in October and will be charged with guiding the swimming programme to the 2012 Olympics in London, working alongside the national performance director, Michael Scott. The American spent 14 years from 1989 as US team director, leading them to the top of the medals table at three Olympics during that time. The highlight came at the 2000 Games in Sydney where the US claimed 33 medals, 14 of which were gold. Pursley has also held head coaching roles at the Australian Institute of Sport and in Canada.

While he admits the role will present a challenge, Pursley is optimistic about the future having seen the British team make progress in recent years. "I'm excited and honoured by this opportunity," he said. "From the outside looking in, Michael Scott and before him [former performance director] Bill Sweetenham have done an outstanding job in turning the ship around and it is now very much pointing in the right direction.

"What I have observed over recent years is a higher level of intensity and confidence within the British team than I had seen before and this is something that is very encouraging for the future.

"Saying that, it's still going to be a very big challenge to get things in place and develop the potential for the next quadrennial," Pursley added.

Scott, who played a significant role in attracting Pursley, said: "He's personally coached some outstanding swimmers and the record books reflect this. I'm looking forward to working with him as we take British Swimming to a new level."