British swimming performance director Bill Sweeten-ham has vowed to take a "softer approach" to his coaching role in the wake of bullying allegations made against him.

Sweetenham - who confirmed his intention to quit following the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing - was recently cleared by an independent inquiry commissioned by the national sport's governing body.

But the experienced Australian admitted the probe had convinced him to tone down his controversial coaching style for the remainder of his time in charge.

Sweetenham admitted: "It [the investigation] hurt tremendously and I am not going to be prepared to push those boundaries again like I did.

"I will take a softer approach which means it will take longer for Britain to make it to the top area of success. I feel I paid the price for trying to push Britain on to a world stage in a short period of time.

"Many times I felt like this is not worth it. That I am trying to do an impossible job. But the support I was given which was massive from the people around me convinced me to go on. And I will go on until 2008.

"But I won't be there for 2012. That will be someone else's baton. I will be worn out by then. I will have set it all up and someone else can come in and run with it."

Sweetenham - who is attending the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in a purely observational capacity - came in for more criticism from English swimming star Mark Foster.

The 35-year-old Foster aimed a parting shot at his long-time nemesis after announcing his own retirement following the World Short-Course Championships in Shanghai next month.

While the seven-times world record holder insisted the decision had nothing to do with his ongoing rift with Sweetenham, he seized the opportunity to attack what he sees as a lack of progress under the current regime.

Foster said: "We are not the team we were four years ago and we will struggle to even make double figures in terms of medals this time - I think people will find we have made a step back."

Foster remains bitter over Sweetenham's decision not to give him a place in the 2004 Athens Olympic team after a shoulder injury saw him miss out on the qualification standard by just 0.05 seconds.

Foster added: "I was told I had to do the qualification standard at the trials or I don't go. It is like a manager telling Michael Owen if you're injured now you're not going to the World Cup.

"It's gone now but it was the biggest disappointment of my career. I had been to every multi-sport event since 1986 and I truly believed after the worlds of 2003, 2004 was definitely my best chance.

"Those years from 2001 to 2003 were some of my most successful but they were also the unhappiest in terms of man-management and being treated like a child."

Foster will compete in the 50m butterfly and 50m free-style in Melbourne aiming to add to an impressive haul of seven Commonwealth Games medals.

He has also won six World Short Course titles and broken seven world records but his best finish at the Olympics was sixth in the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Despite claiming 50m free-style golds in both Victoria and Kuala Lumpur, Foster singled out his unexpected bronze in the same event in Auckland in 1990 as one of the high points of his career.

Foster added: "The one that gave me the biggest buzz was bronze in the Auckland Games because I went there not expected to get anything and I was on cloud nine.

"I don't regret any of it because I have been very successful and won 46 medals but I do wish I had gone to the States when I was 18 or 19. "I truly believe that in Barcelona and Atlanta I would have medalled in the 50m freestyle if I had done that - but I had nobody around to tell me to do it."

Foster is intent on ending his top-level career on a high before moving on to a possible coaching career which could one day even see him succeeding Sweetenham as performance director.

In another clear dig, Foster added: "I tell you what, I would do a good job at it. I would let people do what they want to do and what was best for their performance.