Best of Series: Bill Sweetenham

Our Great Coach on this episode is Bill Sweetenham.

Bill is an Australian swimming coach, who first started training athletes in the 1970’s in the rural Australian town of Mount Isa.

His coaching career progressed quickly and he coached at his first Olympics in 1976, and was then Head Coach for Australia at the 1980, 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, as well as the 1982 and 1986 Commonwealth Games teams.

He then went on to be the Head Coach of the Hong King swimming team in 1991, and the Great Britain team from 2000 to September 2007. In his tenure with the Great Britain team they won as many medals at the World Championships as they had at all previous World Championships back to 1973.

In all he has coached at 5 Olympic Games, 8 Commonwealth Games, and 9 World Championships, his swimmers have delivered 27 Olympic and World Championship medals and have broken 9 world records.

Bill has an amazing presence, he fills the room with his energy and passion. He is a coaching guru in the truest sense of the word and in this interview we were also joined by 4 other elite coaches, who came to listen to what he had to say.

And it was an absolute masterclass. He talks about meeting Nelson Mandela and the Great Boxing coach, Angelo Dundee. He shares stories of his successes and failures and reflects on what he has learnt from each. He is also challenging, forthright and motivating; I left with a soaring sense of energy after this discussion.

There were so many highlights:

The story he shares about meeting Nelson Mandela and the answer he gave him to the question of what lessons he learned while imprisoned on Robben island.

His view that The coach sees what the athlete can’t, and the athlete feels, what the coach cant and takes a marriage of both those attributes to produce a winning result.

And The importance of investing in your past so that you can see your future.

This was a life affirming conversation, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

And just before we go to the interview, If you’re a first time listener, you can check out our archive with of interviews with other great coaches at our website; the

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