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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 August, 2004, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
GB boss defends swimmers
Bill Sweetenham
Bill Sweetenham's methods have been criticised
British performance director Bill Sweetenham has defended his swimming team's record at the Athens Games.

Britain only won two bronze medals and several leading squad members failed to produce their best under pressure.

Sweetenham claimed his team's record of 14 finalists, nine more than in Sydney, proved Britain had progressed.

But he added: "The team was physically as well prepared as any other... but we had Olympic phobia constantly present in our preparations."

Sweetenham said: "Medals wise our results are what should have been expected. I always believed two medals was a realistic achievement."

"Australia took 20 years to build its programme and it has great weather, a large budget and lots of facilities, all three of which we don't have.

"Rome was not built in a day but it can and will be built. Britain was always on a fast-track with time and other nations with more and better facilities against us," added the former Australian national coach.

He said the team was as well prepared as any other team and claimed that pre-Olympic results were not a reliable indicator of Olympic form.

The tough-talking coach has made nine recommendations to help the British squad improve before the next Olympics in Beijing in 2008.

The most important area for the team to work on is what Sweetenham calls "big meet psychology development".

It was that lack of mental toughness which most hindered the British team in Athens.

"This is the biggest area of improvement for British swimming. We need complete technical knowledge. It's not what you do, it's how you do it," he said.

Sweetenham also says the country must develop better 50m facilities and better coaching structures to ensure progress continues.

"We must have result-dependent coaches where positions depend on performances at major meets. Development of eight coaching centres is the single most important factor for the future."

Links to more Swimming stories


GB swim chief defends team
19 Aug 04  |  Swimming
Too much too early
18 Aug 04  |  Swimming

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