AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, October 16. JACCO Verhaeren has coached the three best swimmers to come out of the Netherlands in the past 15 years, and now it appears he’s taking that talent to Australia to help reform the country’s program.
Multiple media reports from Holland indicate that Verhaeren has stepped down from his current post as technical director and accepted a job in Swimming Australia. The particulars of Verhaeren’s job Down Under have not been publicly announced, but many believe he is set to take the position of national team head coach when he moves there at the end of the year.
That job has been vacant since late March, when Leigh Nugent resigned after about four years on the job after an investigation showed that Nugent turned a blind eye to the unprofessional conduct six members of the Olympic team exhibited last summer.
Verhaeren’s long list of swimmers under his guidance include Inge de Bruijn and Pieter van den Hoogenband, both of whom won multiple medals at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and brought Dutch swimming to the forefront as a strong global swimming power. That continued through the 2008 Olympics with the Netherlands winning the women’s 400 free relay and in 2012 when Ranomi Kromowidjojo won the 50 and 100 freestyles in London and Marleen Veldhuis won bronze in the 50.
Verhaeren was national team head coach through the London Games and was replaced by Olympian and NCAA champion Marcel Wouda. The news site nos.nl lauded the hiring saying “Australia has so much to gain (from) Verhaeren” in the wake of the independent report that suggested major shakeups in administration and policy in Swimming Australia.
Australia, once a multiple gold medal winner in international meets, has faltered in recent years, taking only one gold medal at the 2012 Olympics and three wins at this summer’s world championships.