Simon Jones Leading Asian Swimming Resurgence

simon-jones
Photo Courtesy: BISP School

By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

It seems wherever Simon Jones goes, success follows – and Asian national teams have taken noticed.

The Head Coach of the BISP JSA Swim Academy at British International School, Phuket (BISP) in Thailand was tapped to lead the country’s national team for the recent Southeast Asia (SEA) Games in Singapore, where his charges won nine medals in the pool, after already leading the Philippines squad at last year’s Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.

Under Jones’ watch, BISP’s global collection of talented swimmers – a squad with athletes from the Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Hungary, Netherlands, Seychelles, and Namibia national teams – have broken nearly 60 records for their respective countries.

BISP swimmers have taken part in the Youth Olympic Games, World Short Course Championships, the World Junior Championships, World Long Course Championships, SEA Games, in addition to countless medals in regional competitions. Plenty has been accomplished considering the program has only been around since Jones’ arrival in 2013.

“I think swimmers need to be a lot more well-rounded as athletes,” says Jones. “Athletically literate, with an ability, and will, to understand and adapt to the training processes, will produce fitter, smarter and faster swimmers.

“We’ve taken a very broad approach to their training in terms of swim sessions and land training we do throughout the week. There’s multiple energy systems to address throughout the training cycle and an ever-increasing number of methods to exploit strengths and weaknesses on land, and in water. We are dedicated and committed to addressing all possible areas from which our swimmers can make gains in the competition pool,” he says.

One of the main reasons for Jones’ success is his ability to break swimming down to a science – he’s equal parts coach and mad scientist and mentor as he guides teams through elite-level training. And it’s not the first time Jones has built a solid program in Asia.

In 2003, Jones left his position as swim coach and exercise physiologist in Portsmouth – one of the top swim teams in England – to develop the swim program at Hong Kong International School, where the squad was dubbed the Island Stingrays. The team went from around 60 swimmers to about 550 within three years, adding a Learn to Swim program and helping build their reputation with medal victories across Asia.

By the time Jones left the program in 2011, several of his swimmers have gone on to attend Ivy League universities in the United States, including Kelly Robinson who competed at the World Championships in Rome in 2009, and subsequently went on to swim at Harvard University while earning a degree in Neuroscience.

“The opportunities that swimming can provide to the athlete are innumerable, from time management to travel side of things to making friendships but also teaching them life goals and perseverance. We find that a majority of swimmers also want to achieve at higher levels of many subjects,” he says.

Jones has worked with top-tier coaches at almost every level, though the first to ignite his passion was his coach at Portsmouth University, Chris Nesbit. After graduation, Jones joined the High Performance Swim Centre in Portsmouth to be a sport scientist while taking up coaching duties with his alma mater. In addition, he also worked under legendary Australian swim coach Bill Sweetenham, who was the British Performance Director at the time.

The combination of his mentorships, experience and scientific research has allowed Jones to become a builder of top-tier programs. At BISP, the accumulation of Jones’ years within the elite circles of the sport have helped bring together a world-class squad that is expected to make waves in the new few years. Though, for Jones, he’s also preparing these students for life after swimming.

“My philosophy of coaching is that every swimmers deserves to become the best person and individual that they could possibly be under my supervision. I’m very much involved in trying to provide life skills to swimmers not only through to a collegiate level but extending far beyond that.”

For more information about the BISP JSA Swim Academy, visit bisphuket.ac.th/bisp-jsa-swim-academy, facebook.com/swimphuket, or contact Head Coach Simon Jones: aquatics@bisphuket.ac.th