BELCONNEN, Australia, October 17. SWIMMING Australia made an official announcement today that former Dutch coach Jacco Verhaeren will be the country’s new national team head coach, filling a position vacated in March by Leigh Nugent.
Verhaeren is the first foreign-born coach to take the position, taking his place in a legacy that includes Nugent, Bill Sweetenham and Don Talbot. His birthplace may irk some who wanted an Australian to lead the country back to its heyday of winning multiple international gold medals, but Swimming Australia President John Bertrand praised the hire saying: “To be world best, we must search the world for the very best people and we believe we have done this in appointing Jacco Verhaeren as our new National Head Coach, to work with our existing world class athletes and coaches.”
Verhaeren was one of the key players in bringing the Netherlands to international prominence, guiding Olympic legends Pieter van den Hoogenband and Inge de Bruijn to success in 2000 and 2004. Recently, he’s been the coach for Olympic champions Ranomi Kromowidjojo and Marleen Veldhuis.
Verhaeren takes the reins as Australia’s head coach on January 1, when his contract as the Dutch technical director ends.
Below, the full press release from Swimming Australia:
Swimming Australia President John Bertrand AM and CEO Mark Anderson have today announced Jacco Verhaeren as the new National Head Coach to work under Director of High Performance Michael Scott.
Born in the Netherlands, the 44-year-old Verhaeren will officially start in the role in January ahead of the 2014 BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series in Perth, with the Australian Swim Team also set to compete at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs on the Gold Coast next year.
Having coached seven Olympic medallists, including Pieter van den Hoogenband to dual gold in Sydney 2000 and the 100m freestyle gold in Athens 2004, Verhaeren is currently the Technical Director of the Dutch Swimming Federation.
At the London Olympics Verhaeren coached Ranomi Kromowidjojo to gold in the 50m and 100m freestyle and the Dutch women to silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay behind Australia while Kromowidjojo went on to win gold in the 50m freestyle at this year’s world championships in Spain.
Swimming Australia President John Bertrand said the appointment of Verhaeren as the new National Head Coach is another step in enhancing a world’s best approach for the sport.
“To become the best in the world requires four key links in a chain. World class administration of the sport, world class technology, world class athletes – both as individuals and as a team – and world class coaching,” said Bertrand.
“High performance teams require strong cultural values of trust, integrity, transparency of communication, respect for others and having fun. Jacco lives all of these values.”
“To be world best, we must search the world for the very best people and we believe we have done this in appointing Jacco Verhaeren as our new National Head Coach, to work with our existing world class athletes and coaches.”
Having coached at the last five Olympic Games and being the Director of Dutch swimming for the past seven years, Verhaeren says the chance to work in Australia and with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world was too good to pass up.
“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,” said Verhaeren.
“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.”
Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson said the appointment of Verhaeren finalises a world-wide search and the new leadership structure of the high performance unit under the guidance of Michael Scott.
“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,” said Anderson.
“Michael Scott and I commenced the process with interviews after the World Championships in Barcelona and further interviews were conducted before a selection panel in Australia. 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 in this area.”
“In Michael, and now Jacco we have two world class leaders and outstanding professionals in their field, which can only benefit the sport as a whole.”
Having watched Verhaeren’s progression from a pool deck coach to Technical Director at the Dutch Swimming Federation, Michael Scott sees his technical aspects and focus as a real win for the sport in Australia.
“Technically the Dutch have been one of the stronger nations in world swimming for some time now, with their starts, turns and particularly their relay change overs, and Jacco has played a big role in that,” said Scott.
“To be world class we need to be world class in every element of the sport, and we know that there are technical areas that we can work on, and improve, to add to the physical strengths and skills that we already possess.”
“I’d like to thank Michael Bohl and Rohan Taylor for their work in coaching the women’s and men’s teams in Barcelona this year and I’m looking forward to working with Jacco for next year’s Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs on the Gold Coast, and of course leading into Rio.”
Jacco Verhaeren (pronounced Yak O _ Va Har Gen)
DOB: 4 April 1969, Nationally: Dutch
Major Coaching Experience
Olympics — 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012
World Championships — 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013
European Championships — 1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010
Olympic Medallists Coached
Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Marleen Veldhuis, Inge Dekker, Pieter van den Hoogenband, Inge de Bruijn, Marcel Wouda, Kirsten