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Swimming Australia looks to enhance elite aquatic performance in NSW

Swimming Australia looks to enhance elite aquatic performance in NSW
July 13, 2018

Concerned at the decline in elite achievement in aquatic sport in NSW, Swimming Australia is setting out to restore the state as a swimming power.

Just two members of the 32-strong Australian team for the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo next month live in NSW, with 25 of the athletes based in Queensland.

Olympic gold medallist Alex Baumann, who has recently come on board as Swimming Australia’s Chief Strategist - High Performance, said growing high performance in NSW was vital if Australia was to remain a swimming power.

Baumann told the Gold Coast Bulletin “we’ve identified that … there needs to be some intervention in NSW “Queensland is doing very well but how do we ensure that NSW is performing as well? How do we build that sustainability in NSW?

“The belief is that is NSW is performing well, then the whole nation will perform well in addition to Queensland.”

NSW has just one of the 10 high performance training centres in the country at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (SOPAC) where the state’s two resident Pan Pac swimmers - breaststroker Matt Wilson and backstroker Bradley Woodward - train with coach Adam Kable.

Baumann feels that one of the sport’s key strategic priorities was helping develop more opportunities in the state, commenting “it’s a matter of ensuring all the states are firing and performing well but we do have to put more emphasis on NSW from a coaching perspective.

“That’s not saying that there aren’t quality coaches there but how do we ensure we are creating the right environments in NSW.”

Under investment in aquatic facilities in NSW and Queensland’s climate and pool of talented coaches and athletes have made the northern state an increasingly attractive location for elite swimmers over the past decade.

Many of the NSW’s best swimmers end up in Queensland, with the likes of Wollongong products Emma and David McKeon and Newcastle’s Thomas Fraser-Holmes relocating to the Sunshine State to link with elite coaches.

Explaining the challenge facing Swimming Australia, Baumann added “so how do we provide the right environments where they will stay in NSW?”

Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren said the SOPAC program could provide a blueprint for others in the state but regional locations may have to be looked at, with elite swimming programs a tough sell in the world’s biggest cities.

Verhaeren advised “the biggest capitals in the world usually don’t have high performance programs.

“It’s because it’s busy, it’s not easily accessible, it’s too expensive.

 “And this is what’s worked at SOPAC, the athletes that train there, live almost at Sydney Olympic Park so they don’t have the traffic.

 “Matt Wilson was (initially) driving an hour up and down (from the Blue Mountains) to get to the pool and that’s in the longer term for high performance.

“That’s why Brisbane is so successful.

“But you don’t see high performance swimming in New York or LA, or Paris, it’s too busy.

“But looking, for example at Newcastle, Wollongong, that’s all still (possible).

“It’s not impossible in Sydney but you have to look carefully at where you locate people.”

Image: Emma McKeon.

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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

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