By Duncan Mackay

Bill Furniss and Becky AdlingtonFebruary 4 -  Bill Furniss, the man who helped guide Rebecca Adlington to four Olympic medals, has been named as British Swimming's new head coach, it was announced today. 

Furniss, 58, replaces American Dennis Pursley, who left after London 2012 following the team's failure to reach its medal target of winning at least five medals. 

He is part of a new look team alongside Chris Spice, who has resigned as the performance director of GB Basketball to replace Australian Michael Scott, who resigned last November. 

Both men are due to take up their new posts in April.

Spice, who has also previously worked as a performance director for the Rugby Football Union and Great Britain and England Hockey, will provide overall strategic leadership to the World Class Swimming Programme.

Chris Spice in front of British Basketball signChris Spice is leaving GB Basketball to help, he hopes, British Swimming fulfil its potential

Furniss, meanwhile, will use his vast elite coaching experience to provide technical leadership and performance standards to coaches, the home countries and the wider coaching community.

This will include the development and implementation of training, competition and integrated individual athlete performance plans.

"I'm looking forward to working with Chris and what I know to be both world class coaches and world class athletes as we strive to deliver the podium results in Rio 2016," said Furniss, who has been head coach to both Nottingham County swim squad and Nova Centurion swim club since 1980, 

"In Britain we have some of the best coaches and most talented swimmers in the world and my role will be to work with them and their programmes to achieve the small margins required to convert finalists into medallists.

"Chris and I have already met and shared our beliefs and views about what is required to move swimming forward.

"He has an excellent background in sport at the highest level and together we know where collectively we can make a difference."

News of Furniss' appointment comes on the eve of Adlington, who won two gold medals in the 400 and 800 metres freestyle at Beijing 2008 and bronze in the same events at London 2012, officially announcing her retirement from the sport at a press conference in London tomorrow.

Bill Furniss with notebookBill Furniss has been among Britain's most successful swim coaches for 30 years

She had previously been critical of the lack of official role within British Swimming for Furniss and the fact that Scott had refused to base himself in this country, preferring instead to commute from his home in Australia. 

Adlington had been one of only two British swimmers at London 2012 to win a medal - along with Michael Jamieson, with a silver in the 200m breaststroke - as the team fell short of its medal target.

That underachievement is one of the reasons that attracted Spice, who is confident that he and Furniss can be more successful at Rio 2016.

"One of the key things that attracted me to the position is the great potential I see within swimming and based on the solid foundation in place already I believe we can build for an exciting future," he said. 

"I'm delighted to be working with Bill.

"He has an incredible pedigree and I'm certain this partnership will provide the perfect match of strategic leadership and technical knowledge.

"I feel it's a team that can take swimming to a new level and achieve fantastic things."

Steve Parry, the Athens 2004 200m butterfly bronze medallist, who was part of the panel responsible for the appointments, believes Spice and Furniss will prove to be a strong and successful combination.

"I am excited about the new partnership and what it will bring to British Swimming," he said.

"Bill is of the highest calibre having coached the most successful British swimmer of all time and I'm sure his appointment will fill swimmers and coaches alike with confidence.

"While Chris doesn't have a swimming background, he brings with him vast transferable knowledge and a fresh pair of eyes to the sport.

"He has a proven track record in elite level sport, notably as performance director when England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003.

"I think the partnership of Chris and Bill will be a great combination."

Michael Jamieson celebrates winning bronze medal London 2012Michael Jamieson celebrates his silver at London 2012 - but he was one of only two Team GB swimmers to win medals

The appointments have been welcomed by Simon Timson, UK Sport's director of performance.

"The appointment of Chris Spice and Bill Furniss is exciting news for British Swimming's World Class Programme," he said.

"They bring a wealth of experience and proven track records of Olympic success to the preparations for Rio 2016.

"I feel certain the combination of Chris's 16 years' experience of strategic performance leadership allied to Bill's coaching acumen that enabled Becky Adlington to win four Olympic medals will help all our swimmers, their coaches and support staff realise the sport's full potential on the world and Olympic stage and UK sport will be there to support them every step of the way."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
December 2012: British Swimming chief has "healthy debate" with Adlington
December 2012: Embattled British Swimming announce interim leadership appointments
December 2012: British Swimming does not need "radical" overhaul review into London 2012 concludes
November 2012: British Swimming performance director quits after he refuses to live in Britain
September 2012: Adlington surprised at being excluded from London 2012 review