By Nick Butler

halsall smallAugust 6 - Bill Furniss, head coach of British Swimming, has insisted changes will be made following a disappointing week at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Barcelona in which British secured just one bronze medal and finished well short of their target of three-to-five.

The team finished down in 20th position on the medals table - equal with Trinidad and Tobago – and this ensured their worst World Championships showing since the 1998 event in Perth, Australia.

It followed last year's Olympics where they failed to beat their target of doing better than they had at Beijing 2008, when they won two gold medals and a bronze.

In the end all they had to show for £25 million worth of funding was Michael Jamieson's silver medal the 200m breaststroke and Rebecca Adlington delivered two bronze medals as she failed to defend her 400m and 800m freestyle titles. 

They were undoubtedly weakened by the retirement in 2013 of Adlington but Britain was still hoping for far more than the solitary podium finish secured by Fran Hallsall over 50m freestyle.

Among those expected to perform better was Jamieson, whose fifth place in the  200m breaststroke was below the standards set at London 2012, and Jazmin Carlin, ranked number one in the world over 800m and 1500m freestyle going into the meet yet failed to reach the final of either.

halsallFran Halsall (right) on the podium after winning Britain's only swimming medal of the World Championships in the 50m freestyle - their worst performance since 1998

Furniss, the former coach of Adlington, was appointed to the head coach position after Australian Michael Scott resigned following the poor performance at London 2012. 

The new coach admitted that the results were not good enough and explained how changes have already been set in motion to ensure improvements:

"It's been a disappointing week because we came here expecting to do much better than we have," said Furniss.

"We've certainly tried all week to do much better than that and we've done the best we can - it's very much an indication of where we are now.

"For the first four weeks of my job, we were looking at restructuring, and we have looked at everything we do, all over Britain.

"There has been a massive amount of work to get a new performance management team in.

"Once that's over, my job will be with the coaches, I'll be on deck with the coaches, I'll be in their ear and I want to improve our conversion rate - I definitely see that as my primary role.

"We know it's a challenge and we've got to change some things drastically - that's the challenge going forward and we've got to learn from it."

furniss adlBill Furniss in his former role as coach of Britain's now-retired double Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Adlington, who was part of the BBC TV commentary team in Barcelona

His words were echoed by National Performance Director Chris Spice, who was also experiencing his first major event after joining British Swimming from British Basketball in April.

"From our point of view this was an assessment meet, and it's a brutal assessment of where we are," he said.

"As soon as we get our leadership team on board, we'll be looking at what we can do in terms of the front end next year to make a real difference but what we do know is that things can't stay the same."

"We've reset our UK Sport targets and they are fully aware that we've only just started in post - they also understand that our leadership team is not even in place yet."

There were several near misses for British athletes in Barcelona, with Carlin, in the 400m freestyle, and Hallsall, in the 50m butterfly, each finishing fourth, the same position managed by Andrew Willis, ahead of Jamieson, in the 200m breaststroke.

There were also fifth places including for Hannah Miley in the 400m individual medley and for teenager James Guy in the men's 400m freestyle.

"I'd rather have fourths than fifths but we came here for medals," continued Furniss.

"I'm not bothered about ninth or eighth.

"If we focus on them, we're not going to get the medals so we want to focus on winning events and being the best in the world.

"Hopefully in a few years time I'll have swimmers disappointed with silver - it's about raising the bar, it's about giving the right message, it's about being a lot more focused, more concentrated and it's about being world class.

As well as Adlington, who was also a world champion in 2011, the team was missing 2009 World Championship medalists Gemma Spofforth, Joanne Jackson and Liam Tancock, along with Ellen Gandy, who won a silver medal at the 2011 event before switching nationality in a plan to compete for Australia.

james guyJames Guy was one of Britain's brightest rays from Barcelona and the 17-year-old is a big hope for the future after finishing fifth in the 400m freestyle

Furniss was, however, impressed by the new generation of youngsters who made their debuts in Barcelona.

"The attitude of the juniors is no fear and no respect and they're not looking at reputations," he said.

"James Guy has done a fantastic job.

"It doesn't matter who you are, he's going to take you on.

"So there he is at 17-years-old and fifth in the world for 400m freestyle, seeded nowhere coming in and he leads our relay of in 1:47.1.

"So what I've learned is, sometimes if you're experienced you think the juniors learn from you but at times, that can be reversed - I said that to the swimmers this week, this time our seniors can learn from our juniors. 

"It is something we have learned and we have watched everything this week, the athletes, the coaches - we've looked at everything to do with this team and can see some areas we can move forward."

Several other changes have been considered, including moving the British trials back to April after they were held in June this year, which was thought to have had a negative impact particularly for long-distance swimmers such as Carlin.

More team training camps will also be held while greater effort will be made to get the swimmers to race more in the build-up to major championships.

"I think the main thing is we've got to do is race more," said Furniss.

"Absolutely the thing that I've learnt more than anything here is that we can swim in the bubble that is the trials in England but we're not competing well outside of that bubble.

"You will see British swimmers, certainly as we get closer to major Games, racing more against the rest of the world and importantly racing tired against the rest of the world."

ruta MeilutytePlymouth based Lithuanian world champion Ruta Meilutyte si one swimmer Britain will hope to learn from

One interesting point of comparison is Denmark, who won four medals, including gold for Jeanette Otteson in Barcelona under the guidance of new head coach Nick Juba, a 60-year-old Briton who was a failed applicant for the British role.

Another is Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania, who won 100m breaststroke gold in Barcelona, despite being based at Plymouth College in the UK.