Like the rest of the country I was disappointed by the results founded by the report of our Olympic swim team.

Australian swimming has been hit with two damning reports revealing athletes breached team rules relating to alcohol, prescription drugs, bullying and team curfews during the 2012 London Olympic Games in incidents described as “culturally toxic”.

As a coach I was furious and saddened that our great sport has been tarnished in what could and should have been prevented.  When a swimmer joins a team, regardless of age or ability they should be treated with respect by the coach and staff with clear boundaries and guidelines in place so everyone knows the rules and expectations and certainly who is in charge on the deck.

Children learn from example. If a poor example is being demonstrated by people in authority then that in turn filters down the line.  I have unfortunately seen athletes behave badly, with poor attitude and arrogance towards fellow athletes and loving psychology like I do, I always look around that person’s environment to see where the behaviour comes from.  It either comes from the parents, or bad choice of friends they hang around or sadly from coaches.

I have watched coaches who should have their licences removed because of their behaviour.  My swimmers are told from the beginning with my program that bad behaviour isn’t tolerated.  If they come across a swimmer who is unkind I say “Never argue with idiots” in other words walk away when necessary.  Another thing I tell them to remember is “That you aren’t better than anybody else and nobody else is better than you”.

It is our duty of care to all our swimmers and I believe our role as coaches who play a critical part in their lives, to create not only good swimmers but well rounded people with good character and skills to progress through life and make a difference for the better.

I will wait with interest if hard decisions are made by Swimming Australia like a lot of coaches will.   Until then respect one another and be the best you can be.

Coach Spence

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