Leigh Russell has been appointed Swimming Australia chief executive ©Swimming Australia

Swimming Australia has appointed experienced sports administrator Leigh Russell as its new chief executive, it was announced today.

Russell is the first woman to hold the role within the national governing body and she is due to take up the position on April 16, the day after the conclusion of the Commonwealth Games here.

She replaces the interim chief executive Chris Forbes, chosen on a temporary basis following the departure of Mark Anderson to Australian Football League (AFL) club Collingwood.

Russell has worked with Netball Victoria, where she was also chief executive, Cricket Australia and AFL clubs Essendon and Gold Coast during her career.

Russell will now be tasked with running the day-to-day operations at Australia's most successful Olympic sport and elevating the country to the top swimming nation in the world.

"I am honoured to have been selected to lead a truly iconic sport that holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Australians," she said.

"Swimming is genuinely a sport for everybody - of all ages and stages. 

"It plays an important role in keeping Australians healthy and socially connected, alongside providing amazing opportunities for athletes to compete on the international stage. 

"Swimming serves to inspire all of us and community participation is the cornerstone of this thriving sport.

"I’m excited to bring my understanding of sport, from the grassroots to elite, and my expertise in sports leadership to Swimming Australia."

Leigh Russell will officially start in the role on April 16, the day after the Gold Coast 2018 Closing Ceremony ©Getty Images
Leigh Russell will officially start in the role on April 16, the day after the Gold Coast 2018 Closing Ceremony ©Getty Images

Swimming Australia President John Bertrand claimed Russell was the "outstanding candidate in an extremely competitive field".

"Leigh is an exceptional, values driven and results focused leader," he said.

"The breadth and depth of her experience with national and state sporting organisations, Government stakeholders, elite sporting teams and growing the participation bases of sports will no doubt inspire our swimming community and drive the next level of our development.

"She is a highly impressive talent known for her collaborative leadership style and for building high performance culture."

Australia has won a total of 188 swimming medals at the Olympic Games, including 60 gold, 64 silver and 64 bronze.

The country has claimed 558 in the sport at the Commonwealth Games, 241 of which are gold.

Australia are expected to be the dominant nation in swimming events at Gold Coast 2018, due to begin with the Opening Ceremony next Wednesday (April 4).