Sport : Other Sports

Furniss named GB swimming coach

4th February 2013, 03:47pm

Adlington and Furniss at London 2012

Adlington and Furniss at London 2012

Bill Furniss and Chris Spice have been named Great Britain head coach and national performance director, British Swimming has announced.

Furniss is best known as the man who guided Rebecca Adlington to two Olympic titles at Beijing 2008 as well as two bronze medals in London last summer.

His charge is expected to announce her retirement at the same time Furniss will move into the new phase of his coaching career.

While Furniss' appointment comes as no surprise, Spice is a new arrival in the sport, having worked as performance director at the Rugby Football Union, Great Britain and England Hockey and more recently British Basketball.

Furniss had long been expected to be appointed to the head coach role with previous incumbent Dennis Pursley having returned to his native United States - as had been planned - immediately after the pool programme ended in London.

However, any announcement was delayed until the post-Games review into the below-par performance - when just three medals were claimed - was concluded.

Michael Scott, devastated after London, then resigned when the debrief stipulated he must be based full-time in Britain rather than split his time between here and his native Australia, where his family are living.

It left the sport without leadership although Mark Perry, development and open water coach, was quickly made a temporary appointment by British Swimming.

However, in December Adlington laid into British Swimming, telling The Times: "I feel insulted, disheartened and saddened by the way they have ignored us, the swimmers, in all of this."

The 23-year-old claimed the swimmers were in limbo and called on the governing body to make an appointment.

At the World Short-Course Championships in Istanbul later that month, the coaches were clear in their support of a double British ticket of Furniss and John Atkinson, who had overseen Paralympic success in the pool in 2012.

However, they were also fearful Atkinson had not been approached over the role and last week it was revealed he was instead to move to Swim Canada.

The relationship between Furniss and Adlington is one built on faith and trust and one that has changed with the years.

The four-time Olympic medallist said: "Bill to me is the best coach in the world, we've been through so much together.

"We've had our ups and downs.

"I've always said Bill is like a second dad to me, he's talked me through everything and helped me through everything.

"He is somebody who is so calm. I have never seen him stressed, he is one of those people that if you do see him angry you know you've affected him, that he means business, which I really like.

"We've had an amazing journey together."

Those characteristics will serve Furniss well with the sport under scrutiny after London.

Given Adlington's retirement seems imminent with a "major announcement" tomorrow, Spice and Furniss will guide a team to the World Championships in Barcelona this summer without their most consistent world-class achiever.

The pair will start their new roles in April, with the world trials in June. Spice will provide overall strategic leadership - a systems and operations role - while Furniss' is more of a poolside role and he will work alongside the coaches, as well as developing performance and training plans for athletes.

This will ensure a closer monitoring by the head coach of the athletes in the run-up to competition, something missing between the Olympic trials and Games.

Spice said: "One of the key things that attracted me to the position is the great potential I see within swimming and, based on the solid foundation in place already, I believe we can build for an exciting future.

"I'm delighted to be working with Bill. He has an incredible pedigree and I'm certain this partnership will provide the perfect match of strategic leadership and technical knowledge.

"I feel it's a team that can take swimming to a new level and achieve fantastic things."

Furniss added: "I'm looking forward to working with Chris and what I know to be both world-class coaches and world-class athletes as we strive to deliver the podium results in Rio 2016.

"In Britain we have some of the best coaches and most talented swimmers in the world and my role will be to work with them and their programmes to achieve the small margins required to convert finalists into medallists.

"Chris and I have already met and shared our beliefs and views about what is required to move swimming forward.

"He has an excellent background in sport at the highest level and together we know where collectively we can make a difference."

British Swimming chief executive David Sparkes said: "British Swimming is delighted to have brought together a new leadership team for the swimming programme.

"Chris brings an impressive background in high performance sport, having been involved over a long period of time, while Bill is clearly an outstanding coach and will make a massive contribution to our strategy going forward."


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