Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's All Your Fault, Bill; One Bronze So Far Is Not Enough as Our Medal Hopes Sink

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's All Your Fault, Bill; One Bronze So Far Is Not Enough as Our Medal Hopes Sink

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK FOSTER

SO, we have won just one medal in the pool. And this is after the Great Britain team went out to Athens with a lot of top-ranked swimmers, and we still have a good few to go, but I can't see us winning another medal.

What has gone wrong? To my mind, several things, but they boil down to one conclusion: the Bill Sweetenham regime hasn't worked.

Sweetenham came in with a reputation as a hard man who would turn us into a winning team. But he has failed. Even Stephen Parry getting a bronze doesn't make up for that. His medal didn't lift the team's spirits last night - no one made a final after his swim including Ian Edmond, who won silver at the World Championships in Barcelona last year.

There has been an overwhelming failure from a whole list of swimmers who were ranked in the top three or four in the world. You can't cover it over with one or two people doing well.

For example, the men's 4x200m relay team did well last night coming fourth.

But performing out of your skin is one thing and bringing back hardware is another. We needed to win medals, but if you look at our medallists in the World Championships last year, they have all failed to come through with the goods. That is something which seriously needs to be looked at.

However, I don't blame the swimmers. The problem is the system. For a start, there was too much emphasis on the British team trials back in April. The swimmers were told they had to do world-class times then to get into the squad. But there was no point in forcing people to do good times then, because it was too early in the year. Those times from April would have won a lot of medals - but the swimmers haven't been able to repeat them.

As a result, our swimmers in Athens are not even achieving personal bests - their best times would have got them on the rostrum. There is no point in doing your best times earlier in the year instead of when it counts: in the Olympic pool.

By contrast, the Americans held their trials just three weeks before the Olympics, which is far better.

Swimmers can aim to peak at just the right time. …

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