OUTGOING national coach Bill Sweetenham said Hong Kong swimming is improving at a faster rate than any other country - but warned that unless athlete-incentives are increased and the relevant bodies are unified, the whole set-up could fall apart. Sweetenham has compiled figures of Hong Kong's performances over the last six years, showing a significant improvement of times since 1992, while the previous four years showed an alarming decline. He said the percentage improvement was higher than that of the rest of Asia, which, because of the recent performances of China, are ahead of the world in terms of improvement rate. 'The improvement rate for Hong Kong is faster than both Asia and the world,' said Sweetenham. 'If you look at the four years before 1992, in eight of the 11 women's events, Hong Kong were actually going backwards. Asia is also improving faster than the rest of the world, mainly because of China. I think that is positive both for Asia and Hong Kong. 'We have turned it around because of a team effort. But the only way to continue improving is if everyone is involved.' Sweetenham's chart shows that only four of 26 disciplines in both men's and women's events have not shown any improvement over the last four years. The biggest improvements have come in the women's 400 metres freestyle, women's 200 metres breaststroke and men's 1,500 metres freestyle. Sprinters Michael Wright and Arthur Li are both ranked in the top 10 in Asia. He said that Hong Kong can continue to improve if the four bodies involved in swimming's development combine their efforts. Sweetenham identified the Hong Kong Sports Institute, Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association Sports Development Board and the Swimming Coaches Association as the bodies that need to map out the future. 'If these bodies can launch a unified attack, then I'm sure Hong Kong swimming can continue to improve,' he said. 'If any of these groups decide to work in isolation, there is a danger that it will fall apart. 'There has to be a whole lot of changes made. The coaches association has to be included as coaching is one of the most important elements in raising standards. 'There must be much more financial support for athletes and coaches, there must be a move away from centralised programme with stronger club competitions and more responsibilities for club coaches.' Since arriving in Hong Kong nearly four years ago, Sweetenham has continually called for greater financial incentives. Although more incentive schemes have cropped up in recent years, Sweetenham feels they are not enough to compensate the sacrifices athletes have to make. 'When you ask someone to train for four or five hours a day, you know that they have to make sacrifices to the detriment of their normal everyday lives,' he said. 'When you're involved in high risk sport there should be high reward. It happens just 100 miles away in Guangdong. You will not get high performance for low reward.' Sweetenham returns to Australia next month to help prepare the country's juniors for the 2000 Olympics.