About Bill Sweetenham A.M.

Bill (William) Sweetenham was born in 1950 in Australia and grew up in a small country mining town. He swam competitively for a short period before turning to coaching at an early age. Bill progressed from country to city, to elite level coaching. Bill was made a Member of the Order of Australia in January 1989. He was also awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1980 to study swim coaching in the USA.

Early highlights of Bill’s career include many world record swims by the likes of Stephen Holland, Michelle Ford and Tracey Wickham.

Bill was the first State Director of Coaching for Queensland and Australia, and went on to serve as Head Swimming Coach at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and Head Coach of Australia's Olympic Team, Head Swimming Coach at the Hong Kong Sports Institute and Hong Kong's Head Olympic Swim Coach, National Youth Coach for Australian Swimming (1995-2000) and National Performance Director of British Swimming from November 2000 to October 2007.

Team building at the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra

Team building at the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra

Bill led the Australian Swim Team at numerous Olympic and Commonwealth Games. In 1989, he was awarded the Order of Australia and in 1991, the Prime Minister’s Award. And, during the same period in Hong Kong, there was unprecedented podium success at the 1994 Asian and Commonwealth Games.

Bill considers his best coaching effort was placing 9 swimmers on the 1989 Pan Pacific Team with a 100% strike rate for improved heats-to-final performances and 100% personal best time strike rate.

British Swimming Achievements

Under Bill's leadership as National Performance Director, the British Swimming Team achieved all-time record-breaking results. In 2001 alone they won 7 World Championship medals, became European Short Course Champions and broke 41 British senior long course records. Britain also won their first Long Course World Championships gold medal in the 4x200 women's freestyle relay.

Team Press Conference at 2007 Melbourne World Championships

Team Press Conference at 2007 Melbourne World Championships

At the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the team recorded an all-time best result of 11 Gold, 10 Silver and 14 Bronze with 3 1st-2nd-3rd finishes (no other nation achieved any 1-2-3 finishes), and a Gold in the Women's 4x200 Relay, in which Australia had never previously been beaten. For the first time in history, Scotland beat Canada in Swimming at the Commonwealth Games. This result was later surpassed in 2006, again under Bill’s leadership and direction.

In technical discussions with World Champion Coach, Chris Nesbit

In technical discussions with world champion coach, Chris Nesbit at French National Championships

At the 2003 World Championships, Britain won 8 medals, including a men's gold medal (the first in 28 years) and a women's gold medal (the first ever). This, combined with being the winning nation at The Swimming World Universiade and an historical first in winning the total medal count at the European Junior Championships for the first time ever, made the 2003 summer the most successful summer in Britain’s swimming history.

Bill influenced the LEN (Legion of European Nations) to introduce 4 entries per country, per event, for European Championships, both Junior and Senior; which is considered a breakthrough in improving performances across all of Europe.

Other British Swimming highlights include:

  • 2000-2007 Record number of world ranked performances for open and youth
  • 2003-2006 Best ever results at European Junior Championships
  • 2006 - Best ever results at European Long Course Championships, with a record medal tally
  • 2008 - Best ever results at European Junior Championships, with 10 gold, 5 silver and 3 bronze medals
  • 2008 - Best ever results at World Short Course Championships, with more medals won than any other country
  • 2008 - Arguably Britain's best-ever swimming results at the Beijing Olympic Games, including two women's gold medals; their first in 48 years

Near Death Accident and Recovery

Bill managed to overcome extreme adversity, following a near-death automobile accident in Germany in 1983.

Due to a faulty door and seat mechanism in the vehicle in which Bill was travelling, he was flung out of the car on a German Autobahn and hit a sign post.

This accident resulted in major surgery and a 17 week stay in hospital. Bill had to walk on crutches for two years afterwards.

Current Activities

Bill continues to lecture, publish and conduct clinics on a variety of subjects worldwide, and has produced a series of educational and instructional videos on skills and technique. He is a published author of "Championship Swim Training".

Bill is internationally recognised for his visionary strategic planning capabilities, in particular the priorities that he places on relay performances and the success he has achieved in converting this to the area of team performance.

Bill’s Achievements

  • 5 times Olympic Head Coach
  • 8 times Commonwealth Games Swim Coach
  • 9 times World Championships Coach
  • 63 swimmers placed on major National Open Teams (long course)
  • 27 long course medallists at major international meets (Olympic Games and World Championships)
  • 9 world record holders (long and short course)
  • Head National Olympic Coach for 3 different countries
William F. Sweetenham, AM

William F. Sweetenham, AM


  • Credited by Spanish Swimming with supporting their national team to their best ever Olympic medal count in London 2012, their best ever European Championships medal haul and two consecutive European Junior Championship record performances. Also taking Spain to No. 2 country in the world at the 2010 World Short Course Championships with gold medal and total medal counts.
    Spanish coaches

    Spanish coaches

  • Acknowledged as responsible for the best ever national youth programme result in the Olympic arena with 12 swimmers making the Australian Olympic Team in the Sydney 2000 Olympics with a record medal haul for any youth programme in the world, which still stands unchallenged today. This was supported by the world’s best international coach development programme with the Select Coaches Group.
  • Being recognised for Britain’s best ever performances in Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships, European Championships and European Junior Championships between 2000 and 2008. This included the most significant and world’s best talent identification programme in womens swimming across all sports in the world. As well, the establishment of the revolutionary Offshore Training Centre located at The Southport School in Australia for males. The establishment of the Loughborough International High Performance Programme. This programme had arguably the world's leading team of coaches and sports scientists.
  • Singapore’s best ever Olympics, Asian Games and South East Asian Games results were attributed to the author
  • The building of character and culture for 10 years at the Australian Institute of Sport swim programme and its results between inception and 1990 as a world leading performance results programme. This included world leading sports science and introduced a new era of success for Swimming Australia.
  • Hong Kong’s best ever performances at Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and East Asian Games during the author’s period of time as their Head Coach.
  • Published author of World Championship Training" and "Training Drills and Skills". A series of 11 DVDs entitled "21st Century Swimming". A new book to be published at the end of February entitled "International Leadership". This will be accompanied by a series of CDs entitled "International Leadership". This is being published by Mr Lee Woodward of the Real Estate Academy of Australia.
  • Bill was advisory and lecturing coach on what is considered the world’s best and most professional Coach Development Programme during his time in Great Britain. This programme was introduced and co-ordinated by Darlene Harrison and 20 of its introductory coaching interns were first time medal achievers at the Beijing and/or London Olympic Games.
  • Served on the Strategic Development Group for the Australian Sports Commission and the Federal Government in developing the new initiative and strategic direction as announced by the Minister for Sport in December 2012 as "The Winning Edge" strategy.


  • Bill has recently taken a consultancy with Swimming Argentina to work with them leading up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. Since beginning this project, In the recent South American Championships held in Chile, Argentina improved its medal haul from 21 to 28 (including 5 gold medals) since the last Championships.
  • Bill has been engaged by Swimming New Zealand as their interim coach at the Millennium Institute until the Head Coach position has been filled. New Zealand recently held its World Championship Trials/National Championships in Auckland in March/April with outstanding results. These performances were a result of great coaching by Mark Regan and Scott Talbot, and carried on by Bill after their departure from New Zealand. They were mainly due to the outstanding attitude of all the athletes involved in the programme.

Tim Ford, Michael Bohl, Suzi Ford (nee Baumer) and Robyn Lamsam - all Bill's ex-swimmers at his daughter's wedding

Tim Ford, Michael Bohl, Suzi Ford (nee Baumer) and Robyn Lamsam - all Bill's ex-swimmers at his daughter's wedding