Jacco Verhaeren’s Message To The Australian Dolphins: “Give Yourself Time And Space.”

Jacco and freestyler
TIME AND SPACE: "First and foremost now it is really allowing them space and we make sure we provide them with the appropriate care.." says Jacco Verhaeren. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Australian Dolphins head coach Jacco Verhaeren never for one moment thought that it would get to this – an Olympic year without the Olympics.

The seventh and final year of his contract in charge of the number two swimming nation in the world – a coach in charge of a team that now can’t train and headlining a team of coaches that now can’t train them.

Alarm clocks locked away with their kickboards, pull-buoys, goggles, flippers and stopwatches for the Australian winter – hopefully ready to be dusted off in the Spring.

A man in charge of a high performance team that like the rest of Australia and the rest of the world will be as Paul McCartney wrote “Stuck inside these four walls” for six months.

Verhaeren is due to return to his homeland in the Netherlands at the end of 2020 to re-enrol his two boys into school.

It remains to be seen what transpires for the rest of the year but he is a man determined to leave his stamp on the re-preparation of his adopted Australia for a postponed Olympics in Japan in 2021.

What are the next steps for his athletes and coaches as they contemplate six months in a world of their own – without the daily rigors of training, eating and sleeping Olympics – a routine and the dream of Citius, Altius, Fortius now put on hold.


WINNING WHISTLE:  USC Spartans coach Chris Mooney urging on his troops with Jacco Verhaeren close by. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

He talks consistently to his coaches and as he says its human nature they want all the answers and all the decisions immediately.

“But I would tell them ‘give yourself some time to digest this’…people are full of emotions and all of these emotions are their own,” said Verhaeren.

“At the moment we are providing them with their own space, to really digest this message first and we are focusing on providing care, immediate care for the ones who need it but also long term care because for some people reality will kick in in a matter of weeks or months even but…. this could take a while – there is no quick fix.

“In saying that, it is no time to really make big decisions about our future; it is time to make very good decisions; to deal with what we’re dealing with and the matters at hand and then after that phase which could be a matter of weeks we are going to focus on reparation so we repair the damage to our people and also to our industry.

“Then to re-set the minds because we don’t know the goals at this point in time and we don’t know when that goal is going to be set…but obviously (it’s) the Olympics.

“And then to recalibrate the plans and only after that we can make decisions that you’re asking for now.

“What is going to happen then? We have to sit out this situation and do it a step at a time.

“First and foremost now it is really allowing them space and we make sure we provide them with the appropriate care and any big decision about the future we make now would be too emotional and would definitely be without enough knowledge.”


HEAD AND TALES: Head coach Jacco Verhaeren with Mentor Coach Rohan Taylor. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Verhaeren said he didn’t think the postponement news “was unexpected” saying it was obviously the only and right thing to do right now.

“But still it is a tough message and particularly for our athletes and coaches who have been working for years to get to this point,” said Verhaeren.

“And to suddenly see their goal not fade away but suddenly (become) non existent any more… it’s a big message not unexpected but the right thing to do.”

And his reaction to his call out last week to the rest of the world that Australia feels for you and we understand the Olympics is no place for an “unlevel..unfair playing field.”

“I had a lot of responses from all over the world and no one disagreed, which is nice,” said Verhaeren.

“We (at Swimming Australia and with our CEO Leigh Russell) felt it right to put down our position.

“Messages thanking me and saying it was ‘really good… thanks for your support; thanks for bringing it out.

“I think it was a relief for people; we are all in this at this point in time and the more grief and concern we can share – shared grief is better than to struggle on your own.”

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4 years ago

So who’ll replace Verhaeren? I thought we’d know more about who his replacement will be by now.

4 years ago
Reply to  Troyy

Can only be Ron McKeon or Rohan Taylor. Both currently employed by Swimming Australia, and the leader of their respective states. Both well respected in the Australian swimming landscape.

Craig Lord
4 years ago
Reply to  CommonWombat

Jacco may decide to stay until the 2021 Games are done… who knows… many plans are about to be changed.

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