Australian swimmers have had to endure mock executions at a military-style boot camp in Melbourne.
Australian team member Shayne Reese was at the training camp
Pictures of a coach aiming an imitation 9mm pistol at swimmers, some as young as 16, have provoked an angry reaction in Australian newspapers.
Swimming Australia chief executive Glenn Tasker admitted: "What we saw in the paper, depicting weapons and shooting, is very inappropriate.
"My view is people who see it would be shocked."
The camp hosted a number of leading medal hopes for next year's Commonwealth Games, including 18-year-old 50m butterfly world champion Danni Miatke and Australian team members Shayne Reese and Sarah Katsoulis.
Nathan Schrag, a Royal Australian Navy trainer, pointed the imitation pistol at the heads of two kneeling athletes after they had completed a gruelling two-hour exercise.
In his other hand he held a starting pistol with live caps which was fired simultaneously for dramatic effect, with the participants slumping to the ground.
Rohan Taylor, the coach responsible for the training programme, said he would not be using the controversial technique again.
"We were all laughing at the time, but the pictures do not present well," he said. "It was a mistake and I would not do it again."
Federal sports minister Rod Kemp said: "There is clearly no place for mock executions in sport training."