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Swimming NZ hire top coach from overseas

May 4, 2013
World champion Lauren Boyle has welcomed the appointment of David Lyles.

World champion Lauren Boyle has welcomed the appointment of David Lyles.

Swimming New Zealand has secured the services of former British and Chinese Olympic swimming coach David Lyles.

Englishman Lyles has been appointed national head coach and will relocate to Auckland from Shanghai, upon being granted a work permit – possibly this month.

Having coached athletes to Olympic and world championship medals, Lyles’ primary objective will be to place a Kiwi swimmer on an Olympic podium for the first time since Danyon Loader‘s dual gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Most recently Lyles was head coach of the Shanghai Swimming Team, a position he held for over seven years in a country which has become a powerhouse swimming nation over the last two Olympic cycles thanks to heavyweight funding.

High Performance Sport New Zealand chief executive and two-time Olympic swimming champion, Alex Baumann, said Lyles brings an encouraging track record and completes the turning of a new leaf for embattled Swimming NZ.

After sending one the nation’s biggest-ever swim squads to London 2012, only for fourth-placed Lauren Boyle to perform well, the last 12 months have also seen Swimming NZ replace its entire board, chief executive, high performance director and constitution.

Elite swimming’s government funding has also been slashed by $400,000 this year and been demoted to a “campaign investment” sport from the targeted status it enjoyed in the last Olympic cycle.

“David has a good reputation in Britain and has been part of two successful systems. His CV is impressive and other countries were trying to secure him,” Baumann said.

“Having coached Olympic medallists I think he’ll bring an amount of credibility and a person that can drive the programme forward. It’s what we need.

“We, as a nation, are starting to put the building blocks in place for swimming to be successful.”

Lyles, who travelled to the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics as part of the British coaching staff, says he is looking forward to a new and different challenge.

“New Zealand offers me a fresh challenge and a big opportunity. I visited for a week in March and am just waiting on immigration papers to be completed before I can fly over. I’m looking forward to getting started,” Lyles said.

“I think there’s a lot of very positive things happening there and I want to be part of it.

“Lauren’s done a fantastic job of maintaining New Zealand swimming in the past few years and there’s other good, young swimmers.

“She is obviously important for the here and now, being a short-course world champion, but my job is also to find the next batch of Lauren Boyles.

“We’re looking at least a six to eight-year plan. We need to look at where swimming has been, and where it’s at and where it has to go.”

And with the world championships 75 days away in Barcelona, Lyles says having a major event so soon into his tenure offers the perfect stock take.

Boyle, who will be attempting to build on the 800m short course gold she won in Turkey five months ago, said the arrival of a new coach should bring welcome stability to what’s been a tough few months – after the resignation of her coach Mark Regan.

“We haven’t had chance to meet or speak yet, but I’ve heard good things about David from a number of people, which is reassuring,” Boyle said.

“It’s pretty important the swimmers start getting some stability. I just can’t wait for things to be in one piece again. We’ve had to wait a while without having a long-term coach, I hope this can bring some long-term security.”

© Fairfax NZ News

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