Arno Kamminga: Breaking Through The 2:07 Barrier And Craving Races Against The Big Guys

Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

The 2:06 club was one which had only admitted three men before Arno Kamminga crashed through the barrier to join them last week in Rotterdam.

The Netherlands swimmer stopped the clock at 2:06.85 following four lengths of breaststroke to catapult himself to fourth all-time behind only Anton Chupkov (2:06.12), Matthew Wilson and Ippei Watanabe, who had both clocked 2:06.67.

Kamminga had long since believed he had a 2:06 in him but finally pushing through barrier was a relief and a statement after he felt he had been so near and yet so far.

He told Swimming World:

“I think since my times at the World Cups and the 2:07.96 in Budapest last year I felt I could do a 2:06.

“But either I wasn’t really rested or it wasn’t really in my schedule and it didn’t happen.

“In Antwerp (Antwerp Diamond Race) I did a 2:07.1 which was great but also just short of 2:06.

“Now I’ve been training a lot and I feel stronger and better than ever.

“The last time I’d done a 200 breaststroke long course properly was so long ago and so I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I was like ‘I’m just going to go for it, I know I have a 2:06 in me’ but everything needs to be perfect.

“But then I started racing and it felt so great so I was like now I am really going to push it and see if I can break it now.”


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Kamminga, who is coached by Mark Faber at the National Centre in Amsterdam, got his programme at the Rotterdam Qualification Meet off to a flying start with a new national record of 26.88 in the 50br.

The 25-year-old returned the following morning to fire off a notice of intent in the 200 when he lowered his PB by 0.01 to 2:01.17 in the heats.

That moved him up to joint sixth all-time alongside Josh Prenot of the United States and demonstrated that racing fast in the morning is no issue to Kamminga.

Not that early finals in Tokyo seven months from now played any part in his approach.

He explained:

“Since I started with Mark four years ago, every race is all the way! I’m not doing the 90% prelims just to make the final, I’ll always go fast.

“So it’s not necessarily for Tokyo – that’s what I always do. But especially now because I don’t have that many competitions I just saw it as having two opportunities to crack 2:07.

“So I went for it in the morning, it hurt like hell – way, way worse than the afternoon.

“I finished it in the morning and I was 2:07.1 and I was like ‘oh yeah, this is right where I want to be.

“Slowly I am getting there step by step but it felt great finally breaking that 2:07.”


Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

It came exactly a year to the day that Kamminga claimed his first individual medal in international waters with silver in the 50br at the European Short-Course Championships in Glasgow.

It has been some 12 months for the 25-year-old who became the third-fastest man in history over 100br when he clocked 58.43 in Antwerp in March to stand behind only Adam Peaty (56.88) and Ilya Shymanovich (58.29).

On Saturday he completed the breaststroke treble by firing off a 58.69 over 100m.

He said:

“I expected to be a bit faster. Not just after the 200 but I also had a great 50 and in practice I’ve been really focused on the 100.

“But this was getting used to racing back to back. We’ve been doing races in practice the last couple of months but it’s always been one or two days.

“This was the third day: I really felt great and the swimming was good, I was just tired. Especially the 2:06 really took a toll.

“This was going from practice into an actual meet and pushing myself all the way every single time. That was just different.

“I’ve been doing it for the last couple of months and normally I can cope with it pretty well.

“Now it was tough – still 58.6 isn’t bad! But I think I can go much faster than this.”


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The meet in Rotterdam was welcome on several fronts in a year when the effects of the coronavirus resulted in the Olympics being postponed until July 2021.

The ripple effect in the sport saw elite athletes out of the pool for both training and competition.

Kamminga returned to training in the Dutch capital and competed against the high-performance group.

There was a meet in Hengelo in August which “didn’t go as great”, a training camp in Rome in September and October as well as a trip to the Gloria facilities in Turkey.

Rotterdam though was the first competition for which Kamminga rested and tapered with everyone involved in the event tested twice for Covid-19 in the days before.

“This was the first time I’ve done any multiple-day meets since Antwerp.

“We said beforehand this is either going to be a hit or a miss just because I am used to racing a lot and coming from competitions and then having some rest instead of practice – but it obviously was a big hit.”

Nobody is really sure what comes next. Hopefully there will be some international meets in the opening months of 2021 with plans to compete at the Swim Cup Eindhoven in April, the European Championships in Budapest, the Mare Nostrum and Sette Colli before heading to Tokyo.

Kamminga though wants just one thing.

“I just need some racing – I am really craving some racing.

“I love racing the big guys out there. I love racing Anton or the Japanese guys or anyone at the same level. I want to be pushed every single time.

“I mostly train alone – all the breaststroke sets – so I know how to listen to my body and I know how to swim well. But I am just waiting right now to finally race again with the big guys.”


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