Dennis Pursley Named British Swimming Head Coach
- July 9, 2008
British Swimming has appointed former team director of USA Swimming Dennis Pursley as National Head Coach.
British Swimming National Performance Director Michael Scott is pleased with Pursley's appointment to a newly defined role within Britain.
"I'm delighted to have someone of Dennis's calibre leading our efforts on the pool deck," said Scott. "He's got an impeccable track record around the globe and led the U.S. to new heights when leading their Olympic teams.
"The Head Coach will be dedicated to working with Intensive Training Centres and coaches around the country and will assume the role at World Championships and the 2012 Olympics.
"Whereas Dennis won't be coaching individual athletes, he will become the technical leader and will work in partnership with myself as NPD to deliver the best results."
"He's personally coached some outstanding swimmers and the record books reflect this. I'm looking forward to working with him in the future as we take British Swimming to a new level."
It is the first time British Swimming has appointed a dedicated, full-time Head Coach but given Pursley's record and experience Scott is confident it is a move that will have a significant impact.
And Scott's views are echoed by British Swimming Chief Executive David Sparkes who believes exciting times lie ahead for the sport.
"British Swimming is clearly looking forward to an exciting future with Dennis joining the team and working alongside Michael," said Sparkes.
"We are putting together the strongest possible team to lead us to the London 2012 Olympics and feel confident, with the support of the British coaches and the talented athletes we have, the NPD and Head Coach together will give us a fantastic opportunity to achieve success in front of the home crowd in four year time."
Pursley spent 14 years as National Team Director of USA Swimming where he was responsible for all aspects of the national team programme. During this time the USA topped both the men's and women's medal tables in each of the three Olympics. The finest moment was at the 2000 Olympics where the USA won 33 medals, 14 of which were gold.
A former Head Coach of the Cincinnati Marlins, Pursley has also held head coaching roles at the Australian Institute of Sport and in Canada. He returned to the pool deck in 2003 and is currently Director of Operations for swimming at Auburn University in Alabama.
Pursley believes the role with British Swimming will be a challenge but is optimistic about the future.
"I'm excited and honored by this opportunity," said Pursley. "From the outside looking in, Michael Scott and before him Bill Sweetenham have done an outstanding job in turning the ship around and it's now very much pointing in the right direction.
"What I've observed over recent years is a higher level of intensity and confidence within the British team than I had seen before and this is something that is very encouraging for the future.
"There is still a whole lot of work to be done. Michael has continued to move forward concepts such as the Intensive Training Centres and these are a very important step in the right direction. Saying that it's still going to be a very big challenge to get things in place and develop the potential for the next quadrennial."
Pursley will approach the job with a very open mind and will be looking to athletes and coaches to help formulate the plan as British Swimming looks towards 2012 and beyond.
"I'm not going to come in and pretend to know what the issues and answers are to British Swimming, I'll be an outsider looking in," said Pursley. "I have a lot of ideas from my time in world swimming but I won't presume what works elsewhere will work in Britain.
"My first few months will be spent observing, talking with athletes and coaches, and developing the plan to get the right results in 2012.
"My perception is that a lot of groundwork has been done and the foundation is now laid for British Swimming to build upon. The programme is moving in the right direction and the big carrot at the end is the Olympics in 2012. This is an outstanding incentive and opportunity."
Scott played a significant role in attracting Pursley to the role of British Swimming Head Coach and it's something the American is very excited about.
"I wasn't really looking for a career change. I was content with the position I had at Auburn University and enjoying that opportunity but the more conversations I had with Michael the more excited I became.
"From a British Swimming perspective the work will continue on after 2012 but we need to take the next big step towards the ultimate goal and I feel very proud to be involved in it.
"It's important to get everyone to come on board, to work together for the good of the team effort and then miracles can happen. I've seen it over and over again, it has to be a team working together and this is a message I will work hard to deliver."