Australia will review the disappointing performance of its much-heralded swimming team at the London Olympics, officials said on Monday, as they acknowledged the world had “lifted the bar”.
Australia won one gold medal, six silver and three bronze in the pool in London – their lowest tally since Barcelona in 1992. They were also without an individual gold medallist for the first time since the 1976 Montreal Games.
The sole gold came in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay.
“We must do everything possible to get Australian swimming back on top,” Swimming Australia president David Urquhart said in announcing the wide-ranging review.
“This is not a time for blame and scape-goating, this is an opportunity to make the changes required to rise to the international challenge.”
Urquhart said the review will be independent and conducted by experienced coach Bill Sweetenham and former Olympic champion Susie O’Neill, who has blamed the poor showing on a lack of discipline compared to countries such as China.
“What I’ve been hearing… is the work ethic from Australian swimmers is maybe not the same as it used to be 10 years ago,” O’Neill said last week.
“Talent gets you this far in an Olympics; work ethic gets you across the line… it’s one part talent, it’s four parts work ethic.”
Urquhart said much had been said “by people here in London and back at home about our overall medal performance”.
“While everyone is entitled to their own view, no one should doubt the commitment or effort of our swimmers,” he said.
“All of them are proud to represent their country and have done their best in an incredibly competitive swim meet.
“It is clear the world has lifted the bar when it comes to swimming and so must we.”
The review, designed to help Swimming Australia prepare for the Commonwealth Games 2014 and the 2016 Olympics in Rio, will focus on its high-performance programmes and administration.
“We are a proud swimming nation, we have a proud history and have the swimming talent and coaches to be the best in the world,” Urquhart said.
“I am very proud of our swimmers and I am confident they will come back stronger in the future,” he added.
Australia’s head swim coach Leigh Nugent, accused by his predecessor Don Talbot of being too soft on his swimmers, has said he believes the team can bounce back in time for the next Olympics.
Before London Nugent had predicted Australia could win between 13 and 15 medals in the pool – below Australia’s stellar campaign at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when it won 18 medals, five of them gold.
But world champion James Magnussen lost out on Olympic gold by one-hundredth of a second in the 100m freestyle final while Australia failed to win a medal in the 4x100m men’s freestyle relay.