By Oene Rusticus
AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, May 6. INGE de Bruijn, the two-time female World Swimmer of the Year, and the Philips Professional Swim Team are splitting up.
According to coach Jacco Verhaeren and the management of the team, there wasn't enough support to continue the cooperation. The triple Olympic and World Champion and the rest of the team have grown apart on personal and sportive level, Verhaeren said. In particular, Holland's other Olympic superstar, Pieter van den Hoogenband, didn't want to work with her anymore.
Team manager Patrick Wouters van den Oudenweijer explained the situation: "The chemistry within the group was gone. We're working with a team, not with only with the interests of one swimmer. It just didn't work anymore in the collective."
The emotional De Bruijn didn't want to comment on this situation, "I can't talk about it yet," she said. De Bruijn, 28, earlier decided to train in Portland with her US coach Paul Bergen in preparation for the European Championships.
Verhaeren said he feels sorry that it went this way, but the split-up was unavoidable. "It just didn't work anymore. It's better to split up before things really get out of hand. We're now still able to face each other."
This wasn't the first time that coach Verhaeren, who was also De Bruijn's longtime boyfriend, has sent his star swimmer home. In 1996, just four months before the Atlanta Olympics, Verhaeren wanted to waken De Bruijn who was lacking training activity. Watching the Olympics on TV, after she withdrew from the team, she got motivated again to swim. Her new US coach Paul Bergen got her on the right track to become the female standout of the Sydney Olympics.
The Philips Pro Swim team recently reinforced itself with the addition of Hinkelien Schreuder, one of the most talented female swimmers in the Netherlands. Other members of the team include Joris Keizer and Klaas Erik Zwering.