Rob Woodhouse – New Swimming Australia CEO

2024-02-07 No comments Reading Time: 3 minutes
Emma McKeon, centre, masked, talks to her uncle Rob Woodhouse, general manager of London Roar, at the Tokyo Olympics in July, 2021 - photo by Craig Lord
Emma McKeon, centre, masked, talks to her uncle Rob Woodhouse, general manager of London Roar, at the Tokyo Olympics in July, 2021 - photo by Craig Lord

Rob Woodhouse, the Australian Olympic swimming medallist of the 1980s, uncle of Tokyo 2020ne Queen of the Pool Emma McKeon, and a UK-based agent to a galaxy of sports stars at TLA in recent years, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Swimming Australia.

Let the rejoicing begin! Official leadership positions are not the same as being a leader beyond the bubble of sports governance yet Woodhouse’s history and his willingness to take a stand on behalf of athletes when it comes to substantive issues including unfair play, rights and welfare, explain why his appointment Down Under will resonate at home and abroad as a big step run the right direction.

Woodhouse, Olympic bronze medallist ion the 400m medley at the 1984 Olympic Games when Canadian Alex Baumann claimed double medley gold on his way to a career at the helm of sports governance at home, in New Zealand and Australia, stood up against FINA’s attempts to shut down attempts to get the International Swimming League up and running in the face of event, cultural and governance stagnation.

Then, after a successful stretch as the general manager of London Roar, a pro-swim team made up largely of Australians and Brits, he quit when he felt the best interest of athletes were not being served:

Rob Woodhouse Steps Down As London Roar Boss & Crisis-Torn ISL Faces Wave Of Defections, Krayzelburg, Sandeno & Kitajima Considering Their Positions As Managers

Rob Woodhouse Urges Swim League To Let Athletes & Teams “Have A Say In The Direction, Vision & Strategy” Needed To Build Commercial Success

Now starts the art of governance test, not just for Woodhouse but all those around him who might find the moral fortitude to support and follow through on transparency and integrity where such things are proving extremely challenging for many others.

Woodhouse – The statement from Swimming Australia:

The Swimming Australia Board has today confirmed the appointment of Rob Woodhouse as Chief Executive Officer, commencing in the role in mid April.
Woodhouse is highly credentialled and respected across the sports, business and swimming communities, having forged a successful international career in sports administration over almost 30 years. An Olympian who represented Australia at both the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, as well as the 1982, 1986 and 1990 Commonwealth Games, Woodhouse retired from swimming in 1990.
He founded Elite Sports Properties, a talent management business across the UK and Australia, in 1996 and continued to work in the business after selling it to TLA Worldwide (TGI Sport).
His combination of global experience and local connections makes Woodhouse the perfect candidate to lead the sport into the future, with an eye on Paris and Los Angeles, and a focus on the opportunities ahead with the Brisbane Games.
His experience in high performance and commercial delivery, alongside his passion for the sports development from the grassroots, sets Swimming Australia up for growth in the short and longer term.
The Swimming Australia Board, who led the recruitment process, said “Rob’s appointment is a great coup for our sport and we are delighted to be able to bring him back to Australia to lead us.
“We had an impressive number of candidates throughout the process. Rob was a standout and we are delighted he is joining us.”
The prospect of guiding the future of Australian swimming and harnessing its potential is what attracted Woodhouse to the role.
“Leading and shaping the future of swimming in Australia is an incredible opportunity and I’m excited to return home to take on this role.
“Swimming is, and has always been, my passion and it is an honour to lead Australian Swimming as we head into the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games and beyond to the home Games in 2032.  
“We are a nation of swimmers. My focus is to build an environment that inspires and enables our entire swimming community to perform to their potential together, in and out of the water.”
The Board would like to thank Steve Newman for his work leading the business as interim CEO since April 2023.
The Board added, “We are grateful for Steve taking the reins last year when we asked him to step up and are thankful for all of the hard work and dedication he has put in to keep the business moving having made significant achievements as we head towards a milestone as important as the Olympics and Paralympics.
“We would also like to thank the staff at Swimming Australia for their dedication to the business and commitment to delivering for our swimmers and broader community in this transition period. Their ability to continue to deliver during this transitional period is to be commended and we know we are set for success in their hands.

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