During the London Olympics last year, Australia’s swimming team only brought home a total of ten medals. Out of the entire ten medals, there was just one gold. It turned out to be their worst performance for the past twenty years.
This horrid performance eventually led to two separate reviews. The first one was conducted by Bluestone, a business consultant organisation, which portrayed a team undermined by schoolboy pranks, inflated egos, a lack of unity and unrealistic expectations. A few members of the team felt like they were being outcast and even went as far as describing the London Olympics as the “Lonely Games”.
According to the Bluestone review, “Standards, discipline and accountabilities for the swim team at the London Olympics were too loose. Situations were left to bleed with not enough follow through for fear of disrupting preparation for competition. Although few situations were truly grave in nature, they compounded in significance as no one reigned in control. There were enough culturally toxic incidents across enough team members that breeched agreements (such as getting drunk, misuse of prescription drugs, breeching curfews, deceit, bullying) to warrant a strong, collective leadership response. No such collective action was taken.”
There are also some high-profile team members who may face further investigation. If found guilty, they could in fact be fined or banned for their behaviour. Currently, there are a number that are under suspicion of abusing Stilnox, the sleeping tablet. It contains the prescription drug zolpidem, which could constitute a breach of Australian Olympic Committee rules.
At the same time, the review also revealed the divisions between experienced and inexperienced swimmers, between men and women and also between the best and the rest. It was reported that some swimmers engaged in bonding ceremonies through sleeping pills, waking team-mates at night, and even going as far as putting shaved hair into team members’ bedding and kit bags. The report revolved around scrutinising the lack of leadership within the team. “Poor behaviour and disrespect within the team were not regulated or resisted strongly by other team members, ” stated the report. According to Barclay Nettlefold, the new president of Swimming Australia, he has plans to form an integrity panel to further investigate the incidents, identify the culprits involved and hand down the necessary penalties which could comprise of warnings, fines or even bans. For more of the story, click here.
Being a world class swimmer goes beyond just one’s ability. Character also plays a significant role to be successful in the sport. At Happy Fish Swim School, our pool of swimming instructors have all been certified to conduct lessons. To learn more, do check out our website.