By James Crook

America's Cup-winning sailor John Bertrand has been appointed as the President of Swimming AustraliaAugust 30 - Swimming Australia have announced the appointment of two-time Olympic sailor John Bertrand as their new President as they continue to rebuild following a turbulent period.

Bertrand represented Australia at two Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in the Finn class at Montreal 1976, and five America's Cups, most notably skippering the Australia II yacht that clinched victory in 1983, breaking 132 years of American dominance in a performance which has been acknowledged as the "greatest team performance in 200 years of Australian sport" by the Confederation of Australian Sport.

The 66-year-old currently serves as the chairman of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and also of the Alannah and Madeline Children's Foundation, a charity established after the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996 and is now a world leader in child protection causes and anti-bullying programmes

Bertrand is also chairman of selectors of the Australian Olympic sailing team and was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in 1985.

"I am honoured to have been selected to preside over Swimming Australia," Bertrand said on his appointment.

"I've had an association with high performance sport and high performance teams for more than 40 years and this appointment is one of the highlights of my career.

"Swimming has a proud history in this country and a reputation for hard work, humility and success.

"This tradition needs to continue and be a clear focus for all athletes and coaches as we head towards Rio in 2016."

An underwhelming Olympic campaign littered with ill-discipline and mismanagement at London 2012 was followed by another scandal within Swimming Australia this June when President Barclay Nettlefold stepped down after it emerged that he had made lewd comments to colleagues.

Bertrand replaces Barclay Nettlefold as President, after he resigned after less than a year in the job after making inappropriate comments to female members of staffBertrand replaces Barclay Nettlefold as President, after he resigned after less than a year in the job after making inappropriate comments to female members of staff

Nettlefold had only been appointed in October last year whilst Swimming Australia initiated a post-mortem examination on their Olympic campaign, which saw them yield their worst medal tally since Barcelona 1992.

Reviews into the performance at London 2012 found that abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs, as well as flouting of curfews and bullying, went unpunished within the Australian swimming team, and blamed a "culturally toxic" environment on their ultimate failure.

But with an encouraging performance at last month's International Aquatics Federation (FINA) World Championships in Barcelona, where they took three gold and eleven silver medals, Bertrand believes that things are heading in the right direction.

"Australians love watching our gold-capped swimmers in action and personally I get a real sense of pride when they are making their presence felt on the swimming world stage," he said.

"The recent performances at the World Championships in Barcelona and Montreal were a positive next step towards Rio and it's clear that things are moving in the right direction.

"My immediate focus will be to provide the corporate leadership and direction to ensure continued improvement in sporting results, corporate governance, team culture and grass roots growth at the community sport level."

Acting chair of Swimming Australia, Clem Doherty, claimed Bertrand's proven track record for experience across sport and business would be an asset to Swimming Australia moving forward.

"John has been an inspiration to generations of Australians and is a perfect role model for our next generation of elite athletes," said Doherty.

"He brings a unique mix of corporate expertise, government relations, sporting prowess and leadership of high performance teams and will be a valuable asset to the sport."

A solid performance at the 2013 FINA World Championships has proven encouraging for Swimming AustraliaA much-improved performance at the 2013 FINA World Championships has proven encouraging for Swimming Australia

Swimming Australia chief executive Mark Anderson added: "I look forward to partnering with John as Swimming Australia continues to take some important next steps, both from high performance and commercial perspective, and build upon the positive progress the sport has already made this year.

"We will work together and with all our key stakeholders to ensure swimming in Australia is once again a formidable powerhouse on the world stage."

The AOC also released a statement expressing their enthusiasm at the appointment.

"John is a two-time Olympian and a bronze medallist and he has a proven track record in high performance sport," said President John Coates.

"He has impeccable connections in Australian sport and business communities and we are very supportive of his appointment."

Bertrand is d ue totake up the position for the remainder of its term until October 2014, in line with the Swimming Australia Constitution.

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