Arno Kamminga On ‘Insane’ Breaststroke Double In Antwerp & Training For an Under-Threat Olympics

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Arno Kamminga: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Arno Kamminga has described as “mindblowing” his breaststroke double at the Antwerp Diamond Race which propelled him to third all-time over 100m and second-fastest European in history in the 200.

The Netherlands swimmer, who is coached by Mark Faber at the National Training Centre in Amsterdam, surprised himself by going 58.43 on Saturday in the 100m to cut 0.18secs from his previous best of 58.61 set at January’s FINA Champions Swim Series in Shenzhen, China.

There was more to come though as Kamminga returned the following day in the 200 to go 2:07.18, slicing a considerable chunk from his best of 2:07.96 from the Budapest World Cup leg in October 2019.

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

It was all a surprise to Kamminga, especially given he was only recently back from a three-week training camp in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and he had moved house in the days before Antwerp which saw him choose not to compete over 50m.

He told Swimming World:

“It’s mindblowing. This was amazing.

“I was already feeling I could swim fast – and especially for the last couple of months I’ve been improving so much.

“I am really, really confident now I can swim so fast but this was still a big surprise for me.

“I was going to Antwerp in my mind with like alright try to push 58 again and a 2:08.

“But to swim PBs and such big PBs it was amazing.”

Now 24, Kamminga’s 100m best at 21 was 1:01.24 but now he sits only behind Adam Peaty – on a best of 56.88 – and Ilya Shymanovich (58.29) and ahead of James Wilby and Cameron van der Burgh (both with bests of 58.46).

He went out in 27.62 and showed some serious back-end speed of 30.81.

It all prompted a post on social media by 2012 Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh who said:

“Whoa! Well done Kamminga Thumbs up

“If Olympics are on (Coronavirus) this 100 breast field is going to be swift!”

Welcome words indeed to the Dutchman, who said:

“I always remember the 100 breast final in London with Cameron which was pretty amazing.

“I looked up to him. He sent out a tweet last weekend which was really cool.”

Splits of 29.09; 32.49; 32.64; 32.96 in the 200 saw him move to sixth all-time and take his place in the European record books behind only world champion and world-record holder Anton Chupkov (2:06.12) and ahead of 2012 Olympic champion Daniel Gyurta (2:07.23).

1 2:06.12 WORLDS19  Anton Chupkov, RUS

2 2:06.67 JPNKKC17   Ippei Watanabe, JPN

3 2:06.67 WORLDS19 Matthew Wilson, AUS

4 2:07.01 JPNSFSEP   Akihiro Yamaguchi, JPN

5 2:07.17 USAOLY16   Josh Prenot, USA

6 2:07.18 JPNNAT17   Koseki, Yasuhiro, JPN

6 2:07.18 ANTWERP20 Arno Kamminga, NED

He laughed:

“I only heard the day after that I was second European – it’s insane to think about.

“I remember watching the London Olympics with (Daniel) Gyurta and Michael Jamieson and those amazing races and now I’m faster than them and I’m like how?

“On the other hand, I can still feel there is more left in the tank and I feel I’m not even close to my limits so I’ll try to look at it like this is a big confidence boost.

“I’m sure I’m not going to swim every competition this fast but I’ll try to improve and I really believe I can swim fast this summer.”

A Golden End To 2019 And Looking Ahead In Olympic Year

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

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

That followed a camp in Rome, which involved “massive sets” and an emphasis on strength training, before competing at the European World Cup cluster and in Kazan, Russia, where he went inside 59secs for the first time.

He says: “From there the confidence started building and building and I never stopped and looked back.”

December also saw Kamminga claim his first individual international medals when he made four trips to the podium at the European Short-Course Championships in Glasgow, Scotland.

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.

“That was amazing,” he reflects.

“I was dreaming and wishing for a long time for this but to finally do it and to finally really believe in myself (that) I can do this and even more, it feels so good.

“Still every time I go for a best time – everybody knows you can’t always swim a best time – to do it, it is always a surprise.”

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Kamminga has propelled himself into the upper echelons of men’s breaststroke this Olympic year.

However, nobody knows what will happen in the coming months with the coronavirus now officially a pandemic and the Olympics due to be held in Tokyo seriously under threat.

Some have suggested it be pushed back to later in the year and earlier on Wednesday Haruyuki Takahashi, a member of the Tokyo 2020 executive board, said a delay of one to two years would be the “most feasible” option if the Olympic Games could not be held in July and August.

How do you approach it from a psychological point of view when the event you are training for may not take place?

Kamminga said:

“I try not to think about it. If it happens, it happens – like everything happens for a reason but I know I have to swim fast this summer.

“That is all I want to think about, that is what the plan is, what I am preparing for and if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.

“I know I can swim fast and I know I can switch fast if I have to. Let’s see how others can handle and cope with maybe a cancellation or later in the year.”

So too does Kamminga have a long-term view, saying:

“I’m trying to train in such a way that I can maintain this for years.

“I am not pushing my body to the limits where I need to stop in a year because of my body giving out.

“Mentally as well, I am really trying to set up to maintain this for years.

“That is why I am not afraid of this summer: I know I am doing really well right now but I also know I can do really well for years to come.”

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