HUMBLED: Jacco Verhaeren.
HUMBLED: Jacco Verhaeren. GETTY IMAGES

Dutch maestro named as Australia's head swimming coach

IT has been a year to forget, but Swimming Australia chief executive Mark Anderson is hoping a new coach can lead the country out of the doldrums.

Former Dutch swimming mentor Jacco Verhaeren, 44, who coached Pieter van den Hoogenband, Inge De Bruin and Ranomi Kromowidjojo to Olympic gold medals, was named yesterday as the new man in charge of Australian swimming.

Verhaeren's predecessor, Leigh Nugent, was sacked last year in the aftermath of the Stillnox drugs saga involving James Magnussen and five other swimmers, and the subsequent reports of behavioural problems at the London Games.

At the world championships in Barcelona earlier this year, Michael Bohl served as Australia's head women's coach and Rohan Taylor was in charge of the men's squad.

Anderson said there were plenty of candidates for the top job, but he believed the right choice had been made.

"Such is the allure of the Australian swim team internationally, there was great interest in the role from the start and a large number of high-quality candidates applied," he said.

"Our goal from day one was to find and recruit a world-class head coach who was aligned to our current direction for both the team and the organisation.

"We believe Jacco will continue the momentum we have created across our high-performance team of quality coaches, swimmers and staff.

"The team's cultural fit was always a high priority and Jacco will contribute significantly to this area.

"As national head coach he will provide a high level of technical expertise that will complement and strengthen our existing knowledge base."

The Dutchman has coached at the past five Olympic Games and been the director of Dutch swimming for the past seven years.

Verhaeren was not at yesterday's announcement but said in a statement that the job was too good to refuse.

"Australian swimming is extremely well respected on the international stage and to have the chance to work with the athletes and coaches in this role is humbling," Verhaeren said.

"In the Netherlands we are a small swimming nation that has worked hard technically to maximise every opportunity.

"We've had some success working on those technical elements and I hope to bring that focus and drive to this new role in Australia.

"To have the competitive edge in international swimming you have to combine the physical, psychological and technical components of our sport, and I'm looking forward to challenging and inspiring the athletes and the coaches to achieve their goals."



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