Arno Kamminga: From Using Up All The Hot Water To Third All-Time Over 100m Breaststroke

Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

When Arno Kamminga trained as a youngster, he’d get out of the pool early and use up all the hot water to leave his team-mates shivering in the cold showers.

And those fellow swimmers certainly would not have picked out Kamminga as the man most likely to propel himself to third all-time over 100m breaststroke.

But that is exactly where the Netherlands swimmer finds himself: his time of 58.43secs at the Antwerp Open in March eclipsed only by Adam Peaty – and his world record of 56.88secs – and Ilya Shymanovich’s PB of 58.29 and ahead of James Wilby and Cameron van der Burgh (both with bests of 58.46).

The 24-year-old became the second-fastest European in history over 200m at the same meet when he went 2:07.18 with Anton Chupkov the only continental man to have gone quicker, the Russian having stopped the clock in a world record 2:06.12.

But there was little hint of what was to come when Kamminga was in his teens as he told Swimming World:

“I was more the lazy guy. I felt like I never had a real purpose in life, I was just doing stuff. I started because my brother and sister were swimming and it was always chosen for me.

“When I talk to my old team-mates when I was swimming at the club and they’re like ‘we don’t get it. You were always the one first out of the water showering’ and always that I was showering for an hour and then the water turned cold.

“So I went away and five minutes later they were done and there were cold showers.”


Arno Kamminga; Photo Courtesy: Foto Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia /Insidefoto

Kamminga lost his mother when he was just 15 and she 48, a huge shock for one so young.

He had little direction until a year or two later when he decided to commit himself to swimming and at 18 really got his head down in training.

He said:

“I think when my mum passed away, like a year, maybe two years later I really started to think what do I want to do?

“I make my own choices and I do what I want and I do what I like and then love.

“That’s when I thought swimming is something I really like and I’m happy when I’m swimming and especially when I’m swimming good. So that’s when we chose to step up the swimming game.

Back in the day I was better at butterfly. I only started swimming good at age 18 – before that I was always too lazy.

“Showering was better than the training: I always found ways to get out of practice. At age 17, 18, something switched and I was like yeah, I can do this, I can do more.”

There were no European or World Junior Championships for Kamminga – who would always narrowly miss out as he did for the national team for Rio 2016.

He added:

“Before Rio we had the Europeans in London and I missed that one – I would always just miss out, by 0.1 of a second. I’d be like oh hell – am I ever going to make it? So after Rio I was like I’m going to focus one year solely on swimming. I am going to see if I can make it and if I know I can make it I’ll continue swimming.

“If I don’t then I’ll know this is not for me and then I can rest and stop and know swimming isn’t for me.”

Within four months he swam a personal best in the 200 and qualified for the 2017 World Championships in Budapest where he finished joint 13th in the 100 and 14th over four lengths.

Kamminga Starts To Make His Mark In International Waters

At the European Championships the following year Kamminga was seventh in both the 100 and 200 but it was 2019 where he really started to make inroads.

He qualified for the Netherlands’ Olympic team in the 200m at the World Championships in Gwangju and booked his 100m slot at the Swim Cup Amsterdam in December 2019 when he clocked 58.65.

He went inside 59secs for the first time at the World Cup in Kazan, Russia before he claimed his first individual international medals when he made four trips to the podium at the European Short-Course Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.


Arno Kamminga – 100m breaststroke gold for the Orange – at European Short-Course Championships in Glasgow – Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Double gold over 100m and 200m breaststroke was accompanied by silver in the 4x50m mixed medley relay and bronze in the 50m, with all the individual medals won in national-record time.

Into 2020 and those performances in Antwerp hinted at big times to come at the Tokyo Olympics only for them to be rescheduled for July 2021.

Not that Kamminga appears too concerned but instead looked to the long-term, telling Swimming World back in June:

“Mostly I see it as an opportunity – I have one more year to train and get better which really is a good thing for me.

“It was harder trying to maintain fitness knowing all the competitions were postponed but on the other hand my dream is the Olympics but also what comes after.

“I am starting to get out there now and I want to maintain that for many years. The Olympics is a big thing and I really want to go but I am also going to do Paris for sure. I am going for four more years.

“So for me I could easily shift my focus – I want to be a better swimmer over time, not just this summer, not just at the Olympics. So that really helped me.”


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