How Pursley Drew A Line Under Britain’s 2012

In the week that Britain prepares to host late World Championship trials as part of a shift of regime post-London 2012, we recall a December 2012 curtain-closing interview in which American coach Dennis Pursley broke his silence and gave his judgment on his tour of duty in Britain

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In the week that Britain prepares to host late World Championship trials as part of a shift of regime post-London 2012, we recall a December 2012 curtain-closing interview in which American coach Dennis Pursley broke his silence and gave his judgment on his tour of duty in Britain

Comments

beachmouse

I think a good chunk of the problem came down to culture clash. The US swim machine is actually a decentralized system of small but powerful fiefdoms that clash in competition on a regular basis. Attempts at national training centers or permanent national team coaches are generally seen as a poor way of spending money since most of the national team regulars will end up in the duchies of Gainesville or Ann Arbor or Los Angeles with coaches who have a long track record of producing athletes who perform well at the largest stages. Chuck Wiegus would never dream of dictating to Teri McKeever or Greg Troy how to structure the seasons of their national team athletes because it would be an insult to their professionalism to do so. Australia swimming, while not quite as decentralized as the US system, still seems to put a lot of power and decisions in the hands of club coaches.

But the vibe I’ve gotten from British swimming is that it all comes together best when the federation centralizes more of the decision-making process when it comes to racing, elite development, and international competition. Pursley asked club coaches to take certain actions rather than making those actions mandatory for the national team, and because he didn’t make things mandatory like Sweetham would have they were blown off.

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