sport

Furniss named GB swimming coach

Bill Furniss and Chris Spice have been named Great Britain head coach and national performance director, British Swimming has announced.

Furniss is best known as the man who guided Rebecca Adlington to two Olympic titles at Beijing 2008 as well as two bronze medals in London last summer.

His charge is expected to announce her retirement at the same time Furniss will move into the new phase of his coaching career.

While Furniss' appointment comes as no surprise, Spice is a new arrival in the sport, having worked as performance director at the Rugby Football Union, Great Britain and England Hockey and more recently British Basketball.

Furniss had long been expected to be appointed to the head coach role with previous incumbent Dennis Pursley having returned to his native United States - as had been planned - immediately after the pool programme ended in London.

However, any announcement was delayed until the post-Games review into the below-par performance - when just three medals were claimed - was concluded.

Michael Scott, devastated after London, then resigned when the debrief stipulated he must be based full-time in Britain rather than split his time between here and his native Australia, where his family are living.

It left the sport without leadership although Mark Perry, development and open water coach, was quickly made a temporary appointment by British Swimming.

However, in December Adlington laid into British Swimming, telling The Times: "I feel insulted, disheartened and saddened by the way they have ignored us, the swimmers, in all of this."

The 23-year-old claimed the swimmers were in limbo and called on the governing body to make an appointment.

At the World Short-Course Championships in Istanbul later that month, the coaches were clear in their support of a double British ticket of Furniss and John Atkinson, who had overseen Paralympic success in the pool in 2012.

However, they were also fearful Atkinson had not been approached over the role and last week it was revealed he was instead to move to Swim Canada.

The relationship between Furniss and Adlington is one built on faith and trust and one that has changed with the years.

The four-time Olympic medallist said: "Bill to me is the best coach in the world, we've been through so much together.

"We've had our ups and downs.

"I've always said Bill is like a second dad to me, he's talked me through everything and helped me through everything.

"He is somebody who is so calm. I have never seen him stressed, he is one of those people that if you do see him angry you know you've affected him, that he means business, which I really like.

"We've had an amazing journey together."

Those characteristics will serve Furniss well with the sport under scrutiny after London.

Given Adlington's retirement seems imminent with a "major announcement" tomorrow, Spice and Furniss will guide a team to the World Championships in Barcelona this summer without their most consistent world-class achiever.