Danes Look to Keep Momentum With Large-Squad Strategy; Great Danes, Smart Track Projects

By Swimming World Scandinavian correspondent Rokur Jakupsstovu

BRONDBY, Denmark, September 9. AT the 2013 Danish Aqua Clinic this weekend, the Danish National Team trio of sports director Mikkel von Seelen, head coach Nick Juba and national training center coach Shannon Rollason presented a bold new plan to keep the momentum going from a successful 2013 World Championships in Barcelona as the Danes focus on Rio 2016.

The plan going forward is that Denmark will be represented with record large squads at the Herning 2013 and Berlin 2014 European Championships, while working on strengthening the male and future aspects of Danish swimming with initiatives coined “The Great Danes” and “Smart Track,” respectively.

The first part of the plan, as presented at the Aqua Clinic, is to have a record number of Danish swimmers competing at the upcoming European Championships. Denmark will look to feature up to 36 swimmers at the short course championships when they host in Herning in December. The nation will then hope to qualify up to 15 swimmers for the long course edition in Berlin next summer.

Team sizes will, of course, depend on the quality of swimmers, as Denmark doesn’t want to have swimmers placing 35-40th, even on home turf.

The Danish qualification system, however, has been changed completely from being based on projected Olympic results to be calculated on a combination of FINA points and past results at the event. This change is as von Seelen put it, “to relate to the competition they are actually going to compete at,” with the big objective in mind though still the Rio 2016 Olympics.

With the attempt to field larger teams in mind, the Danish Swimming Federation will be launching two initiatives to strengthen Danish swimming plus secure the future.

“The Great Danes” project will be to prepare a select group of up-and-coming male swimmers, while the “Smart Track” initiative will nurture especially talented age groupers. The “Great Danes” group will consist of 10-12 men and maybe more, who will focus on 100-meter swims, but include 200-meter free and some middle-distance and distance specialists. This group will be focused on racing tough during heats and finals at a minimum of four European-based weekend meets, with a requirement to participate in at least two events in every preliminary session. In other words, Denmark is looking to find some multi-event studs throughout the process.

Other initiatives were also presented at the Aqua Clinic related to club visits, coach development, stroke camps, a distance development program, as well as a focus on relays and expansion into open water.

To those of us who have participated at many of the past Danish Aqua Clinics, always placed here in the beginning of the upcoming season, the event this year was characterized by some much-needed optimism. This optimism was clearly founded by the impressive Danish results at the recent World Championships.

A few objections were made by attending coaches, mostly why the “Great Danes” initiative didn’t also include up-and-coming female swimmers, but in general the plans were applauded, with clear expectations towards primarily the hosting the 2013 European Short Course Championships.

The following presentation by the Herning 2013 arrangers was especially impressive, promising a great first European championships on Danish soil.