AOC boss urges Swimming Australia to accept governance changes
AOC president Ian Chesterman has urged Swimming Australia members to vote in a new constitution. Photo: Getty
Australian Olympic Committee president Ian Chesterman has urged Swimming Australia members to vote in a new constitution at a crunch meeting for the sport.
Chesterman on Tuesday welcomed five sports to the Olympic movement, with cricket headlining the list of new events for the 2028 Games in Los Angeles.
But the focus remains on one of Australia’s oldest Olympic success stories, after months of drama for Swimming Australia (SA) and the threat of expulsion by World Aquatics.
One of the chief concerns remains the governance structure, following a high turnover in key positions after issues were raised by athletes to the global body.
That prompted threats from World Aquatics to threaten to suspend SA if changes were not made.
SA members will meet on Friday to vote on a new constitution, with changes to include giving World Aquatics vice-president Matthew Dunn voting rights.
An athletes director would also be given a place on the board with full voting rights, while more directors would be appointed rather than elected.
The new constitution has been backed by the likes of World Aquatics and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), with SA officials also believing it will help meet modern governance standards.
However, there have already been reports of opposition from the voting delegates of the nine SA member organisations, with work still ongoing towards Friday’s meeting and the hope of a positive outcome.
“We would certainly support the constitutional changes at SA,” Chesterman said.
“We think it’s really important to have stable governance.
“We think the model put forward makes sense and we should be able to get back to the sport and the athletes’ performance in the pool, which is so important.”
Australia’s swimmers, who claimed the most gold at this year’s world championships with 13, have been told their ability to compete at next year’s Paris Olympics is not under threat.
However, the administration of the sport has been given no such guarantees.
World Aquatics executive director Brent Nowicki has publicly threatened suspending SA’s board if they are unhappy with the organisation’s governance, and installing a stabilisation committee in their place.
Any further resistance beyond that could risk expulsion and a new organisation taking charge.
“Everyone would like to see SA stay in control of swimming in Australia,” Chesterman said.
“I think that’s what we’ll get to. It’s been a difficult time.
“Let’s also remember that the athletes, while these things have been happening, have been unbelievable during the same period.
“So we want to get back to a situation where the focus on swimming is on our incredible swimmers, because they are swimming outstandingly.”