Brisbane Times

Gould takes aim at work ethic and coaches

Sat August 4, 2012 6:37am

THE swimming legend Shane Gould has blamed Australia's underperformance in the pool in London on coaches who place too much emphasis on statistical analysis rather than technique.

Gould's claim that Australian swimming was ''over-scientised'' came after another former golden girl, Susie O'Neill, said the nation's swimmers had lost their work ethic.

With only two nights remaining in the Olympic swimming program, Australia had just one gold medal - a surprise victory by the women's 4 x 100 metres freestyle relay team - dramatically fewer than the six in Beijing (2008), seven in Athens (2004) and five in Sydney (2000).

The much-vaunted squad faced the real prospect of finishing the Games without an individual gold for the first time since 1976.

Gould, a triple gold medallist, told The Saturday Age that Australia's highly structured approach to finding and coaching swimmers had served it well in the past, but was now coming at the exclusion of creativity and innovation.

''I think it's over-scientised,'' she said, ''cranking numbers and making graphs and looking at angles.''

Gould said the model of training needed to change, with ''99.9 per cent of swimming coaches'' male. ''I think women are more likely to look at the quality of strokes instead of crunching numbers,'' she said.

O'Neill, who is in London for Foxtel, created a storm when asked on air about the discipline of Australian swimmers compared with that of the Chinese.

''It's really difficult in my situation to feel like I'm bagging the current athletes, and it's easy to do that as a past athlete,'' she said. ''But what I've been hearing a little bit from different people is the work ethic from Australian swimmers is maybe not the same as it used to be 10 years ago.

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