Bluestone Edge Culture Review into Australian Olympic Swimming

BE News

Tuesday 19 February, 2013


Swimming Australia has today outlined the findings of the Bluestone Review, its review into culture and leadership within the sport, in conjunction with the release of the Smith Review.

Bluestone Edge Director, Dr Pippa Grange said, “The purpose of the review was to explore a range of matters relating to culture including: the overall environment in and out of the pool, challenges faced, success factors, behaviors and leadership practices in Australian Olympic swimming in the context of the London Olympics 2012.”

“We spoke to more than 70 representative swimmers, coaches and staff and other stakeholders, including 57 formal interviews, and concluded cultural factors played a significant role in the London Olympics experience with four consistent themes emerging – standards, expectations and accountabilities; ownership of the brand and story of Australian swimming; community and connectedness and leadership,” said Grange.

The Bluestone Review provides for consideration 25 wide-ranging recommendations and some of the key recommendations on culture include:

  • Create an ‘ethical framework’ for the SAL organization from the board to the swim team using a thorough consultative process.
  • Update and refresh relevant internal codes of conduct for swimmers, coaches and staff, and team rules specific to camps and events. These should be aligned to the ethical framework.
  • Design clear processes for managing issues around standards and expectations (particularly things that go wrong) that consider all relevant stakeholders.
  • Develop and implement a brand strategy in line with the ethical framework.
  • Ensure rigorous social media and other media policies are developed and updated in conjunction with regulatory bodies and subject matter experts.
  • Develop innovative, realistic and well-planned team-building strategies for swimmers, coaches and staff between now and the next Olympics that have both a performance and social focus.
  • Get clear about the consequences for people (swimmers, coaches, staff, the board) who undermine the internal community through disruptive and unacceptable behavior that is contrary to the ethical framework, codes of conduct and rules and be prepared to follow through with those consequences without exception.
  • Introduction of multi-faceted, relevant and tiered leadership development programs for athletes that are competency based.
  • Invest in an intensive coach-to-coach leadership program for the head coach.

The Bluestone Review runs concurrently with The Smith Review.

“Sincere thanks go to the participants for their candor, trust and spirit of improvement. Many participants in this review were positive and passionate about the future of swimming, open to partnership and committed to progress. There is a great appetite for the challenges ahead in swimming; this is the time for SAL to turn intention in to action and lead the way,” said Grange.

To read an abridged version of The Bluestone Review click here.

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