Australia’s swim team would not be divided into two despite the appointment of men’s and women’s head coaches to take the team into this year’s world championships, the men appointed to the positions, Rohan Taylor and Michael Bohl, said on Friday.
Taylor and Bohl, who take the men’s and women’s team positions respectively from the completion of the national titles next Friday, said their goal would be to reunite the team after the tumultuous London Olympics, which was blighted by underwhelming performances and bad behaviour.
The respected pair, who fill the void left by Leigh Nugent, will hold their roles until the Barcelona world championships in July, after which a head coach would be sought and appointed. They will work closely with Michael Scott, who will start as high performance manager on May 1.
Bohl, who had nine Australian swimmers in London and also trained Korean superstar Park Tae-Hwan, and Taylor, who has trained several top swimmers including Leisel Jones, both said they did not want the head coaching job. They said they wanted to remain with their own squads and saw their positions as transitional roles.
They are keen to repair the culture of the team – described as ”toxic” by the Bluestone review – into one of high performance and results.
”It’s pretty simple really,” Taylor said. ”It’s about the focus and the attitude and we just need to remind ourselves we’re all in it, the coaches and the athletes are all there together, and we just need to remind ourselves that’s what it’s about and performances will speak on behalf of the team.”
Bohl said it came down to achieving three things.
”You want them [the swimmers] happy, you want them prepared, you want them working together,” said Bohl, who guided Stephanie Rice to three gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. ”If you get those things in line the rest of it just falls in a row behind it.
”One of the things we’ve got to get back to is making sure that the team is as one. We’re all one team, we’re there together, we’re all trying to get the best performance out of the athletes. We will separate from time to time but for the most part we’ll be there as one united team.”
Bohl said they would not look to significantly change the workings of the team.
”Both Rohan and I as the men’s and women’s coaches are there really to support,” Bohl said. ”We’re not the answer I don’t think, but any coach or swimmer that makes the team has a big job in front of them and working together as one unit will go a lot further.”
One of the criticisms aimed at Nugent was that he was not strong enough against troublemakers.
Bohl is a known hard taskmaster, with Taylor jokingly saying ”you don’t want to cross him”. Taylor also said he had standards that were ”non-negotiable”.
”Our athletes should be focused on preparing themselves to perform and that should be their No.1 priority,” Taylor said. ”If they’re doing that, they’re behaviour should be reflective of that. If it’s not we’ll tell them.”
Bohl said it did not mean they would have to wave the big stick.
”That’s not really our role,” he said. ”It’s up to the individual coaches that are looking after the swimmers and the swimmers themselves to take responsibility for what they’re doing. If we do see behaviour that’s probably not becoming to what an Australian swimming representative should be I’m sure we’ll address it through the [swimmer’s coach].”
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