Sport

Swimming Australia to announce significant reforms after post-Rio wash-up

Swimming Australia is on the verge of announcing a series of reforms to the way it approaches major events after completing its review of a mixed-bag performance at the Rio Olympic Games.

Everything was put on the table in the wash-up from Brazil, including possible changes to the date of Olympic trials as swimming bosses try to ensure athletes are at their peak on the big occasions.

Gold medals to Kyle Chalmers, Mack Horton and the women's 4x100m relay were highlights for Australia in the Rio pool but a number of No.1-ranked athletes and world champions failed to produce their best, prompting questions about the lead-up program.

Swimming Australia president John Bertrand said a large number of lessons had been absorbed after the Games and those would be made public within a fortnight.

None of Bertrand, SA chief executive Mark Anderson and head coach Jacco Verhaeren could rule out a change to trial dates in future campaigns, which was one of the major talking points post-Rio.

Australia have trials months ahead of major events and will do the same this year, with the Australian championships being held in April in Brisbane ahead of the FINA world championships in Hungary in July.

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The US, a wildly dominant force in Rio, hold trials far closer to major events and that may now be an option for Australian swimmers.

"Lots of lessons that came out of that [Rio]. Some obvious, some not so obvious. The surveys were done of all the athletes, all the coaches, administrators. It was open feedback right across the board," Bertrand said.

"It's a smorgasbord of opportunity with that knowledge gained. The question is how do we apply that to something that really works. There will be some internal changes, not obvious, and the external environment as well. It's an evolution. What we do know is that world's best practice in Rio won't cut it at Tokyo. That's just evolution. We're in the business of getting there faster than any nation in the world."

The new course for Swimming Australia is certain to include more racing for its swimmers, another hot topic after Rio, which will also likely see a reduction in camp-style training trips after feedback from athletes.

"We've had a very positive time. We review after every competition. We want to continually improve. The months leading up to Christmas were exciting," Verhaeren said.

"We looked at competition, we looked at camps, the daily performance environments, the podium centres, coaching and everything that comes with it. This has all come together."

When asked if a shift of trials was possible, Verhaeren said: "I'll have more news in two weeks."

Swimming officials gathered in Melbourne on Thursday to confirm Italian brand Arena as its official swimwear supplier for the next four years. It's the first time since 1956 Australia swimmers will compete in any brand other than Speedo.

A Ferrari was wheeled in for the announcement, which Bertrand said was a massive step for the national body given its history with Speedo. Arena, which already has deals with a number of high-profile Australian swimmers, was perceived to have the better technology in its suits.

"Hugely significant, for all parties of course. As we push further and faster, any advantage, real or perceived, is vital," Bertrand said.

"We're taking on the world with a budget similar to a small AFL football club. That's the reality. We understand that so any advantage is welcomed."

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