Armstrong calls for 'brutal' coach
Swimming Australia needs to use the ''dynamite facility'' at the Australian Institute of Sport and reinvigorate the program by employing a coach who is ''crazy about results'', former gold medallist Duncan Armstrong says.
A dismal performance at the London Olympic Games put SA in damage control and the disappointing results in the pool prompted a review into the organisation's culture.
Chief executive Kevin Neil has already resigned from his post but head coach Leigh Nugent remains in charge of the swimmers.
The review surprised Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medal-winner Armstrong.
The 44-year-old said the slide of Australia's swimming success started under former coach Alan Thompson's management style and would continue unless officials employed a results-driven leader.
Armstrong won gold in the 200 metres freestyle in world record time and silver in the 400 metres freestyle at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
''If you don't have someone at the top who is crazy about results like [former coach] Don Talbot or Bill Sweetenham was … it's not like I think they're the solution but I think we went to a management policy that made London's results inevitable,'' Armstrong said
''What brought us undone was that we weren't desperate enough, especially in the men's team. You need someone with mongrel.
''Unless we have dedicated federal and state governments, we're not going to get back to the heights of Sydney. I don't think the review will find much … it will say we need to be tougher and more money.
''Maybe we need to reinvent the head coaching position and find someone who can be brutally tough.''
The post-London fallout began when swimmers detailed bullying within the team.
Despite having some of Australia's best medal prospects, the athletes struggled on the big stage and delivered just one gold medal.
Some of the coaches have already moved on, with youth mentor Vince Raleigh, Paralympic coach Brendan Keogh, open-water coach Greg Towle and head sport scientist Bernard Savage finding new jobs.
Nugent remains and believes he needs to stay for stability within the ranks. Armstrong said the problems ran much deeper than the hierarchy and urged state officials to make more use of the AIS.
The institute and Australian Sports Commission are about to implement a major overhaul of their programs through the new Winning Edge program, aimed at lifting Australia into the top five on the Olympic medal tally. It leaves the future of the swimming program at the institute unclear, with national sporting organisations to be handed more control of their funding.
Adding to the institute's woes is that the pool at the Bruce campus is leaking. Repairs are expected to take up to six months and cost as much as $2 million.
Australia's most successful swimmer in London, Alicia Coutts, has made Canberra and the AIS her home in recent years.
''The AIS has had a massive influence on Australian swimming, without a doubt,'' Armstrong told The Canberra Times.
''The pool in Canberra is one of the best in the world … there's a long and strong heritage for swimming at the AIS and they have to find a way for it to work.
''You don't want to go back and reinvent the wheel, the fact is we've got a dynamite, world-class facility in Canberra. We've just got to make it work.''
Armstrong was in Canberra on Wednesday to present Canberra Furnished Accommodation with the ACT prize in the Business Go for Gold competition.
Canberra Furnished Accommodation managing director Laurie McDonald won a visit from the Olympic legend, who dropped by for lunch at Soju Girl restaurant in Civic.