Inky Leaves the US, Returns to Holland

By Oene Rusticus

AMSTERDAM, April 10. THE international guessing game, "Where Is Inky?," finally ended this week when
triple Olympic and World Championships gold medalist Inge de Bruijn and her coach Paul Bergen decided to part ways after six successful years.

Bergen led Inky to twelve world records, making her Swimming World's female "World Swimmer of the Year" in both 2000 and 2001.

Paul Bergen is a tough coach — precisely what de Bruijn needed to perform well. But after six hard years living in a hotel room in Beaverton, Oregon, she’s moving back to her home country, The Netherlands.

The "magic" was gone between them, according to De Bruijn, so it was better for both to go their separate ways.

De Bruijn didn’t participate in the European Championships in Berlin last summer because she wasn’t fit enough, according to Bergen. Earlier in 2002, she split up with her Dutch coach (and boyfriend), Jacco Verhaeren.

Inky joins Top Swimming Amsterdam, the pro swim team from the nation's capital. Fedor Hes will be her new coach, and she’ll be training alongside Chantal Groot and Marleen Veldhuis, teammates with whom she hopes to surprise the world in the 400 freestyle relay at the World Championships in Barcelona.

“She’s very ambitious and wants to show herself at the Athens Olympics,” according to coach Hes. “But we’re going to take this step by step, first the Dutch Nationals, April 24-27, which are also Trials for the World Championships. Then we’ll see how it goes. She has been training with us for several days now, and everything is going well.”

Inge's arrival is expected to have a big impact on the other members of the team. Coach Hes has had good conversations with them about the consequences, but the swimmers only see advantages. “For the young guys it’s great, of course, to have Inge with us. All swimmers can gain from her presence. She brings a wealth of experience with her.”