AUCKLAND, New Zealand, December 8. SWIMMING New Zealand has turned to the architect of the burgeoning Spanish swim programme to guide its high performance endeavours.
Luis Villanueva, the Technical Director of the Spanish Swimming Federation, will take up the role of High Performance Director in New Zealand.
Spain, like New Zealand, has aimed at developing its swim programme to become internationally competitive.
Villanueva, Technical Director for Spain since 2009, has been responsible for the development and implementation of a high performance plan for the national team and the recruitment and management of their professional staff.
Villanueva led a much improved performance at the London Olympics with Spain gaining two silver medals, four finalists and seven semi finalists. Their star was Mireia Belmonte who become the first Spanish female swimmer to win an Olympic medal. At Beijing in 2008, Spain had achieved no medals, one finalist and three semi finalists.
With the close assistance of High Performance Sport New Zealand, Swimming New Zealand said they had taken time to find the person with the right skills to fill the key role.
“We wanted someone with a technical and coaching background but most importantly with the skills in planning and directing the implementation of a world class high performance programme,” said Swimming New Zealand Chair, Brent Layton. “We wanted someone who also understood the resources and challenges of a programme of New Zealand's size within a global sport competing against nations with many more swimmers. We also wanted someone inspired by this challenge.”
Swimming New Zealand is developing a high performance model that is based on clear leadership and direction, world class coaching, a strong team culture and an integrated athlete pathway building to podium results.
“Luis has the credentials to help us achieve our goals. He faced similar challenges within his own country and over four years established a successful model.”
This is in keeping with the ethos that Villanueva wants to instil, having challenged Spanish swimmers “not to just get to the Olympic Games, but to win there.”
“The Games require a lot of hard work and the swimmers have to be optimally prepared to achieve their best performance under maximal stress,” Villanueva said. He underlined that “training a lot is not enough to win. We need swimmers who can compete in extreme situations. A complete commitment of the athlete with their preparation is also a must every day of the year and every hour of the day.”
Villanueva, who will take up his role in mid-January 2013, has a background in high performance in swimming with the Royal Spanish Swimming Federation, the Spanish Sport Council and several regional and club organisations.
Swimming New Zealand said it has a group of world class swimmers from which to build for Rio in 2016, led by Lauren Boyle, Glenn Snyders, Gareth Kean and Matthew Stanley. Beyond that there is a sizeable pool of talent with the potential to perform well in 2016 or 2020.
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