Bill Sweetnam Notes
When the NT identifies a gap in their future performance (say they are worried about not having enough fly swimmers) then the Club system is encouraged to target the NT's weakness.
They have a two National and two State camps each year. The National Camps immediately follow the largest meets of the year and involve very hard training. The idea is to try to break the athletes then encourage them to keep going. The camps are structured with three-a-days. At the end of the week they have a meet to see how the athletes are able to perform under stress.
They have a national club manager who travels the country supporting the coaches.
In order to have lasting world class success, sponsorship is essential. Four years ago, nobody cared about Aussie swimming. ANY of the eight nights of the 2001 World Champs had the largest television audience EVER for an Aussie sporting event. Bigger than tennis, rugby, all the major sports. All this for an event where the action happens underwater! Swimming can be exciting, it can be done.
They identify athletes by drawing two lines -- one at X% of the world record and the other at X% of the national record. At 13, the line is 83% and it increases by 3% per annum. When they find a swimmer, at or above the lines then they send someone to investigate.
When they identify a promising athlete, they support the coach with training. They do not "take the athlete" away, they support the coach in being able to handle the athlete's development. That way, the athlete motivates the other guys in his squad and the additional coaching knowledge stays in the sport.
At all National and State Camps, the athlete's coach will always attend the training camps. The camps appear to be just as much for training the coaches as training the athletes.
Athletes are recommended to follow a 3-2-1 racing program each year. Three meets at their level of proficiency. Two meets at below his standard (so he will crush). One meet at way above his standard (he will get destroyed).
In the below standard meet, he will be very, very tough on the athlete. Nothing is good enough and he will give them a bad time.
In the above standard meet, the athlete will get blown out -- however -- he will give them huge praise. The goal being to "teach" that when the athlete is faced with the ultimate challenge, he will be supported.
During the Olympics, they had a "mirror" camp with the athletes that they expected to compete in 2004. They wanted to start to build a team spirit for the next generation.
They make the transition upwards as difficult as possible. It takes lots of dedication and commitment to make the National Team. It is a huge achievement to be selected. The athletes gets lots of support but it is grueling test of physical and mental endurance.