SWIMMING Australia today announces the departure of High Performance Director Tamara Sheppard, who has taken up a role as General Manager of High Performance at USA Rugby.
Sheppard joined Swimming Australia in 2018 after the Rio Olympics, working with Alex Baumann on the job of building the performance programs and daily training environments across the country to World’s best practice, guiding the High-Performance team to their best ever Olympics in Tokyo where she led the program as the High Performance Director.
Sheppard had moved into the role, taking over from Baumann after he stepped into the Swimming Australia CEO role.
Her achievements include revolutionising the high performance program by implementing the current Performance Hub model that delivers greater accessibility to the National Institute Network for categorised athletes as well as working to support the technological advancements for the sport.
Sheppard’s impact on the sport has been immense, culminating in Australia being the number one swim team in the world at the recent World Aquatics World Championships in Fukuoka, as well as the Paralympic swim team having their best Worlds campaign at the World Para Swimming World Championships in Manchester in over a decade.
Her calm leadership with performance-focused outcomes has allowed the sport, and more importantly the athletes, coaches and high performance staff, to flourish over her tenure.
Swimming Australia President Susan Smith noted the impact of Tamara’s departure.
“It is with great regret that Tamara is leaving our organisation – she has been visionary and a pillar of leadership over the past five years culminating in the greatest period of success for our high performance unit,” Smith said.
“There is no greater resume for Tamara than the Dolphins’ phenomenal success at the Tokyo Olympics, World Championships in Fukuoka and then the Paralympic World Championships in Manchester.
“We wish Tamara all the best in the next step of her career. I know she will make her mark on USA Rugby. Tamara has been unfailing in making the hard, correct decisions for our organisation, a true sign of leadership.”
“Tamara’s guidance and her focus on the development of her High Performance team over the past five years leaves not only a legacy but a team ready for the program over the next 12 months. Thank you Tamara and good luck.”
Dolphins Head Coach Rohan Taylor said Sheppard’s loss would no doubt be felt across the sport as well as the broader high-performance network.
“It has been an absolute honour to have worked alongside Tamara for the past 5 years,” said Taylor.
“Tamara has provided not only myself with guidance and support but has been a strength of our High Performance Team through strong and consistent leadership of our Culture and Purpose.
“From the success of the Tokyo Olympic Games through to the recent success in Fukuoka World Champs, Tamara has provided world-class leadership that helped drive the success and will be missed greatly.
“The legacy Tamara has left behind with myself and the HP Team will ensure we will be the custodians that continue to deliver the support to our coaches and athletes as they work towards performances at the highest levels.
“Tamara is an example of a High Performance person who instils confidence in others to stretch beyond their comfortability and achieve greater things.”
Sheppard will depart in mid-November, joining USA Rugby in a role that will see her build and lead the high-performance programs for the men’s and women’s 7s and 15s programs, building their capacity and performance ahead of Paris and more importantly LA in 2028.
“I came to Swimming Australia with a drive to support coaches and athletes in the delivery of exceptional performance and the Dolphins epitomise this,” Sheppard said.
“I know first-hand the effort everyone puts into this program – from the athletes through to coaches and physios and support staff – so it is somewhat with a heavy heart that I am saying goodbye.
“This is a very special program that is purpose driven and puts the person first and while I am looking forward to embracing a new challenge in rugby, I will be watching from the sidelines and I wish everyone involved the very best for Paris and beyond.”
Greg Shaw will take over as the High Performance Director in the runway into Paris.