SWIMMING Australia's chief executive is the latest casualty of the sport following the country's Olympic flop. Within three months of the London Games closing, the organisation has changed its president and chief executive.
Fairfax Media understands that Kevin Neil - who secured a five-year contract extension before the Olympics - told confidants on Wednesday of his plan to stand down, and 24 hours later Swimming Australia announced the ''mutually agreed departure''.
With Swimming Australia's board opening itself to tough self-examination, a wide-ranging review into the country's performance in London - and deeper problems out of the pool - is under way. Dr Pippa Grange has already been employed to investigate culture and leadership in the national ranks, an initiative of Barclay Nettlefold, who replaced David Urquhart as Swimming Australia president last month.
Jeremy Turner, a Swimming Australia board member and former CEO of Queensland Racing, will act as interim replacement for Neil but will not apply for the job permanently.
For the first time since 1976, Australia did not win a single individual gold medal in the pool at the London Olympics. Australian swimmers brought home six Olympic gold medals from Beijing in 2008 and won seven in Athens in 2004.
In the past year, the sport has received about $12 million in federal government funding.
The head of the Australian Swimmers' Association, Daniel Kowalski, has been outspoken in agitating for change at the top at Swimming Australia. The former Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist has argued that the administration needed to be held to account as much as the swimmers for the poor Olympic performance. In the lead-up to the July Games, Kowalski criticised Swimming Australia over salary and funding matters, and has had major problems with the organisation's lack of consultation over big issues. Particularly vexing for Kowalski was the fact that Neil flatly refused to include the Swimmers' Association in negotiations over swimmers' pay.
Nettlefold praised Neil's contribution to the commercial growth of Australian swimming.
''Under Kevin's leadership, Swimming Australia increased its revenue by 40 per cent and instigated several new developments such as the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series involving China and South Africa in Perth, where $500,000 is offered in prizemoney to swimmers,'' he said.
''Kevin was also instrumental in negotiating a new broadcast deal with Network Ten, the implementation of a range of important initiatives targeted at growing the sport at a community level, and the development of an aquatic facilities strategy targeted at protecting access to water space for swimming clubs and building relationships with pool operators.
''We will now examine what primary areas of expertise the new CEO is required to have to meet the immediate and long-term vision of the sport.''
Neil, who joined Swimming Australia's board in 2008 and became CEO in the same year, said in a statement that he had ''witnessed great changes'' in swimming, and remained proud of playing a role in the ''development and the enhancement of the sport's revenue base''.
''Following the below expected results at the London Olympic Games, swimming is now undertaking various reviews to set the new course for the future,'' he said.
''It is therefore appropriate to step aside to allow the sport to progress to its next exciting phase.''