Rohan Now Taylor-Made To Take Australian Dolphins To Tokyo Olympics In 2021

Jacco and Rohan and group
THE OLD AND THE NEW: Outgoing National Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren (left) with Rohan Taylor, the new man who will now lead the Dolphins to Tokyo. Photo Courtesy Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Little did a 16-year-old Rohan Taylor realise that he would one day become the latest National Head Coach of the same Australian Olympic Swim Team that showed up in his family backyard in San Jose in 1984.

Taylor was born in Melbourne in 1968 but grew up in Hong Kong and the United States with his father working for various companies in the human resources sector.

And while in San Jose, California, the talented teenager started swimming under renown South African-born freestyle world record holder Jonty Skinner – who had turned his hand to coaching.

And teen Taylor actually swam against the Australian Olympians in the San Jose lead up meet en-route to the LA Games and the team coaches connected with the Taylor family.

“Next thing you know I’ve got the entire Australian Swim Team in my backyard – I couldn’t believe it – people like Jon Sieben, Neil Brooks, Lisa Curry, Ron McKeon all having a barbeque,” recalled Taylor today, after his anointing to replace Jacco Verhaeren as Australia’s new National Head Swim Coach for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

“It was a dream come true for me being a young swimmer and having your idols walk through the side gate just before the ’84 Games.”

And it is something he has never forgotten.

Rohan Taylor with Jacco 2

TAKING THE REINS: Australia’s latest National Head Swimming Coach Rohan Taylor with predecessor Jacco Verhaeren Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

As a young Taylor continued to work his way through High School and College in California he began casual coaching under another aspiring coach in Dave Salo at Irvine Novaquatics – who would also go on to become a mainstay on the US National Team, and the long-standing Head Coach at USC, a role he has only just relinquished.

“As it turned out I had learnt so much from Jonty and Dave that when I returned to Australia I was ready to take on coaching and I loved it,” said Taylor, who landed a role with at Shoalhaven in NSW, before moving on to Carey Aquatic and Nunawading – coaching the likes of Sarah Katsoulis, Belinda Hocking, Ashley Delaney, Shayne Reese, Travis Mahoney, Josh Beaver and Leisel Jones– who he steered to Olympic gold in Beijing in 2008.

Taylor also served a term as the president of the Australian Swimming Coaches And Teachers Association (ASCTA) and he has spent the last three years working alongside Verhaeren and the National Team coaches – in a coach leader role as well as his 9-5 position as the Victorian and Tasmanian State Head Coach in what has turned out to be the perfect stepping stones to his role as the new National Head Coach.

Taylor, who turns 52 on Friday, is ready to step into the successful shoes of Verhaeren, who will honour his family by returning to his native Holland for his teenage sons to complete their schooling – his stay cut short by the postponement of the Tokyo Games for 12 months.

Verhaeren had been contracted to Swimming Australia until November, when he was always preparing to return home and after lengthy discussions with SA High Performance strategist and two-time Canadian Olympic gold medallist (also in ’84), Alex Baumann, Verhaeren knew he could not provide a 100 percent commitment for another term.

Rohan Taylor and Jess Hansen

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: One of the key components towards building a good team. Rohan Taylor working with World Championship breaststroker Jess Hansen. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

And he leaves swimming in Australia and the Australian Dolphins in good shape after he steered them to a successful 2019 World Championships and in the best of hands with Taylor transitioning from his coach leader/mentor role into becoming the new head man.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to have this opportunity to take over and continue what Jacco has put in place,” Taylor said yesterday as he “Zoomed into” his first official online press conference.

“It will be my job is to continue the work Jacco has done and to make sure the athletes and the coaches have everything they need (to succeed).

“Obviously there are a number of barriers coming forward with COVID-19 and that’s going to be a challenge but really to facilitate that and to help maintain the campaign plans with the Australian Olympic Committee and when we get the opportunity to select our team, transition into Tokyo as seamless as possible.

“It is important to give the coaches and athletes the best opportunity to perform and because I’ve been involved with the team for the last number of years under Jacco and the leadership group I’m familiar with that and it gives me good confidence.

“I know who I’m working with and I know my role and what I need to do and that’s a supporting role and a guiding hand.”

Rohan Taylor

PERFECT TIMING: After three years working as a National Team mentor and leadership coach Rohan Taylor now the Head Man. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Taylor said it was a privilege to follow in the footsteps of some of the best known coaches in Australian Olympic history – including the likes of the late Terry Buck, Bill Sweetenham, Don Talbot, Leigh Nugent, Alan Thompson and Verhaeren.

“I’m going to need a little bit of time to let it sink in but from my point of view I’m in this position because I’m standing on the shoulders of those before me,” said Taylor.

“I am a familiar face around the team; I do have some leadership responsibilities around the team; Jacco and I have worked extremely well together; so I was thinking this is clearly the best thing to do.

“This is all about building relationships. Jacco had to build a lot of relationships (when he arrived into the role in 2014) with a lot of people – we didn’t know him well – he didn’t know us – so as a coach on the pool deck he really reached out to build that relationship.

“And myself moving into a supportive role basically an extension of that; I had been working with the coaches on team and I think there are really good trusting, honest relationships amongst the coaches which ultimately helps support their environment which ultimately helps the athlete and builds that (trust).

Rohan Taylor and Dean Boxall doing their block

IN THE BOX SEAT: Rohan Taylor with St Peters Western Coach Dean Boxall in the lead up to last year’s World Championships. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

“For me personally I transitioned off the pool deck so I had to learn how to detach from that environment and become more of a global thinker; be more aware of the unique differences of what peoples needs are and what athletes and coaches in our unique sport need and really listen more and spend more time processing and engaging in that way,” said Taylor.

The father of two girls said he is excited but at the same time, he knows he has to temper that excitement with a bit of patience because he knows it’s about slowly easing back into that normal training routine (with) competitions still a long way off.

“What I love about our sport and what I love about being around the team is the work ethic; the athletes putting themselves through their paces; their competitions that are a way off; so I have to stay patient and focused on what can we do now to help?” said Taylor.

“What are the important pieces that we can put in place that maybe aren’t there but are going to lead us towards that and (as many people know) I like to run at 100 miles an hour so this is a test for me…..”

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1 comment

  1. avatar
    Oz Swim Fan

    Great move having an Aussie at the helm. Unlike Verhaeren, hopefully Taylor realizes that Australia is a huge pool of talent, not just locate himself solely in South East Queensland.

    This is perfect news for swimmers & coaches across the country, but especially for those who have been hugely forgotten in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia & South Australia.

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