Team leader Michael Scott, an Australian, read out a statement to reporters with his hands visibly shaking in discomfort.
“We will be undertaking a thorough performance de-brief,” said Scott. “I have met with British Swimming Chief Executive David Sparkes this week to begin this process so we don’t lose momentum as we implement the strategy for Rio.”
Scott hoped the review would be completed by the end of October and said everything would be looked into, from athletic preparation to how the team is selected to the use of social media and leadership.
Britain, third in the overall table after a gold rush elsewhere at the Games, took just three medals in the Olympic pool and none of them gold – in contrast to Rebecca Adlington’s two titles in Beijing four years ago.
Adlington won two bronze medals this time, in the 400 and 800 metres freestyle, while Michael Jamieson took a silver in the 200 metres breaststroke.
While the host nation had more finalists than ever before (23 in the pool and two in open water) they failed to convert into medals, with two fourth and six fifth places.
Britain ended up equal 15th with Canada in the swimming medals and behind the likes of Belarus, Lithuania, Tunisia and Hungary.
Scott recognised the failure could lead to reduced funding for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro but made clear he would not be resigning. His contract was extended for four more years before the Games started.
Head coach Dennis Pursley said before the Olympics that he would be returning home to the United States for family reasons. Scott said the process of replacing him would be put on hold until the de-brief had been completed.
“I’m gutted with the performances,” declared the former director of the Australian Institute of Sport, who took on his role in 2007. “We came here to be successful and success is measured by podium performances and we didn’t achieve that.
“On a personal level, I’ve never experienced a low like this. But we have to rebound, we will rebound.
“Forty percent of our top eight placings were fourth and fifth. We have to understand the reasons for that…I do not want to sit here again. I do not want to feel what I am feeling now,” added Scott.
Scott said the roar of the London crowd should have been an asset and did not agree there was a systematic problem even if there were issues to address.
“You cannot be the number three nation in terms of finalists and say that our system isn’t producing. It’s not producing at the right level and as performance director I take responsibility for that.”
Scott said British Swimming would argue the case “passionately” for their funding not to be cut but was unlikely to succeed.
“We most likely will have to be leaner and meaner,” he said. “That means that things will change…we are going to have to invest our money in those areas where we believe we are going to get the performance results.”