January 17 - Bill Sweetenham (pictured), British Swimming's former performance director, has been helping Wales' rugby union team prepare for the Six Nations, it has been revealed.

The Australian, who was in charge of British Swimming for six years until he quit in September 2007, has been working with the 2008 champions on their conditioning.

Warren Gatland, Wales' New Zealand-born coach, said: "Bill came in and had a look at our set-up.

"He wanted an insight into how a team works but he gave us some feedback as well.

"Craig White, our conditioning coach, knows him and he had a look at the whole set-up and environment we have created.

"He comes from an individual sport and had a new take on some of the things we were doing."

Sweetenham caused controversy during his spell in Britain with his no-nonsense approach which upset some of the country's top swimmers, most notably Mark Foster, who retired in frustration at his methods, but he dramatically raised standards and laid the groundwork for the success at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, including Rebecca Adlington winning two gold medals.

Gatland said: "He was very complimentary about the whole environment.

"He underlined the fact we had to keep challenging the players and that the environment couldn’t be comfortable for the players.

"He challenged the coaches and the management about not being afraid to talk about winning and success.

"It was good to get an outside view and the little techniques that he suggested to get the best out of people."

Sweetenham, a thee-time Australian coach of the year, worked with Australia's swimming teams at four Olympics and five Commonwealth Games.

He is a close friend of Sir Clive Woodward, who led England to victory at the 2003 Rugby World Cup and who is the now the director of elite performance at the British Olympic Association (BOA).

Sweetenham has set up his own consultancy business offering a "strategic consulting service to a select group of national and international high performance sports organisations, coaching bodies and businesses".

Gatland said: "It’s always important to talk to people from other sports and organisations.

"You don’t want things to become stale and you have to keep adding things to the environment created.

"The staff have to feel the pressure and know they must perform.

"They have to be as emotional as the players and a loss has to hurt them as much as it hurts the players.

"It’s about being hard on ourselves."

Related stories
August 2008:
 Sweetenham should get credit for Adlington admits Davies
September 2007: Davies slams Sweetenham
March 2007: Sweetenham to leave British Swimming next year