Nigel Redman – former England Rugby player, and currently British Swimming’s Head of Performance Team Development – has been announced as one of the high-profile speakers for the FINA Swimming Coaches Golden Clinic at the FINA Convention, Hangzhou, China, 8–10 December 2018.
We were delighted to catch up with Nigel for this interview.
What is your role at British Swimming, and what do you think other International Swimming Federations might learn from your ‘radical’, ‘forward-thinking’ approach?
“Basically, my role is to look at development and how to collaborate through leadership, coaching and sports science. Our whole purpose is to create a space where our athletes can thrive. This space is supportive, it can be challenging, but it needs to be individualised to each athlete’s specific needs, particularly in major competitions.
I liaise with people in every area of the sport, from the Performance Director and Head Coach, to sports scientists and pool side coaches at international tournaments. Most of my work takes place during training; at competitions or camps, I’ll monitor how we behave towards each other and with the athletes.”
Is there any other Swimming Federation that offers a role such as yours?
“I don’t know… I had a similar role in Rugby Union, where I was in an assistant position working primarily with coaches. But I believe this is the first such collaborative role looking at development and opportunity.
I’ve certainly had a unique career path.
I’m not here to coach swimming. I get asked a lot what I know about the sport and my response is ‘not a lot really’!”
Can you expand on how your experience in Rugby has contributed to your work with British Swimming?
“I come from a 30+-year background in high-performance Rugby Union as player, coach and coach developer at club and international level, helping practitioners at every level work together more efficiently and effectively. These are skills that have been invaluable in enabling me to offer unique elite athlete and coaching experience to British Swimming.”
How is British Swimming preparing for Tokyo 2020?
“We’re definitely a nation that aspires to make an impact at the Olympics. Luckily, we’ve been having increased success in Swimming, particularly with 1 gold and 5 silvers at Rio 2016 (our best performance since 1908). In preparing for Tokyo, it’s really important to keep moving forward and not rest on our laurels.
Our team has bought into this wholeheartedly. They might challenge some of the things they’re being asked to do, but it’s all done with respect. We can have debates and come out of them better and stronger.
We’re looking forward to 2020, to 2024. Our commitment to each other and our athletes is absolute. We will continue to strive to be as good as we can be in our duty to make our athletes the very best, they can be. I will continue to support and look for opportunities within the sport and without to find ways that we can work better together.”
What do you consider to have had the biggest impact on swimming in the last two years in terms of performance?
“Well, that’s going to be the subject of my talk – looking at swimming and British Swimming
from a cultural behavioural perspective. The impact of working together has been a huge factor – helped for us by the fantastic work of our Performance Director, Chris Spice, who with Head Coach Bill Furniss have created a management team all striving for the same goals. The importance of the coaching role cannot be overemphasised as the gaps between potential and achievement get ever smaller.
What are you most looking forward to at the Coaches Clinic?
“I’m looking forward to listening to other speakers discuss their environment and what they’re currently doing to enhance athlete performance. We all see the world differently and it will be interesting to hear other people’s perspectives.
This is new for me, too. Although I’ve spoken about swimming at conferences in the UK, and at conferences abroad on other subjects, I’m excited to be able to share some of the things that we’re doing as we continue on our successful journey.”
You can attend Nigel’s session ‘Competing as part of a Training Programme’ on Saturday 8 December from 14:00–15:00.
Other speakers on Saturday’s schedule include American Peter Andrew (Michael Andrew’s coach) and China’s Zhu Zhigen (Sun Yang’s coach).
Don’t miss out on the year’s biggest Aquatics event. Register today at https://worldaquaticsconvention.com/register-now/