Australia appoints two head coaches for para-swim team
In an Australian para-swimming first, two head coaches have been appointed to steer the nation's team to this year's world championships and possibly beyond.
Kate Sparkes and Harley Connolly have been named head coaches of Australia's para-swim team for the para-world titles in Manchester from July 31 to August 6.
Sparkes will oversee the men's program and Connolly the women's in a move which, if successful, could be extended to next year's Paralympics in Paris.
"We have got a chance to look at whether this is the right model into Paris," Swimming Australia's high performance director Tamara Sheppard told AAP.
"We're really conscious we have got to make this work for Harley and Kate ... (and) make sure it's absolutely right for performance in Paris."
Australia's able-bodied swim team had two head coaches in 2013 when Michael Bohl took charge of the women and Rohan Taylor, now the sole head coach, the men - the only previous time the nation's elite swimmers had dual leaders.
Sheppard said Connolly and Sparkes were standout candidates to head the para-swim program.
"They both stood out in their own way with their own strengths," she said.
"Both have a great record delivering performance when it mattered the most and building really strong relationships with their athletes.
"And there's opportunity to share their experiences and bring it nationally to lead the program."
Connolly will tap into his experience from two Paralympics, two Commonwealth Games and multiple world championships.
He will retain his position of head coach of the Paralympic hub program at the renowned University of the Sunshine Coast and work closely with Sparkes.
"We will work together for the best outcome of the team," Connolly told AAP.
"It will be good to be able to bounce ideas off each other rather than just having one person trying to take the lead and having all the expectation on them."
Sparkes, who was appointed to her first senior Australian team for the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021, will also continue coaching her current crop including Australia's world-leading sprinters Rowan Crothers and Katja Dedekind.
"We don't want to be distracted from our job, which is still getting our athletes to the podium," Sparkes told AAP.
"We are obviously medal-focused, that is where our benchmarks sit.
"But for me it's more about personal bests and being fast and that is what my athletes are good at - performing when it matters.
"That is one of our philosophies and Swimming Australia's as well."