German coach Dirk Lange has set up permanent camp as head coach at a training centre in Graz, Austria, that will provide a base for his DLP Project 2016. Athletes from seven countries, including Olympic champion Cameron Van Der Burgh (RSA) and Olympic relay bronze medallist Jiang Hai Qui (CHN), are part of an international squad aiming for 2016 success at the Rio Games.
Lange tells SwimNews: "In Graz, I found [Austria had] provided excellent conditions with full support from country, region and national and regional swimming federations. optimally supported."
The local programme will run alongside the international DLP effort, designed along the lines of previously successful ventures by Lange such as the programme he ran in Hamburg with the likes of Olympic medallist Sandra Voelker and world champions Therese Alshammar and Mark Foster.
The plan is to "provide top international swimmers with a professional environment to ensure optimal preparation for European and World Championships and ultimately the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro", says Lange, who of late has helped Mexico's development on the way to a home world championships in Guadalajara in 2017.
"It is a great honour for me to know that in the first two months since setting up [in Graz], there has been an influx of outstanding athletes from seven countries". Those include South Africa, Spain, Sweden, China, Ukraine, Slovakia and Croatia, with the backing of federations from those nations.
Van der Burgh, who worked closely with Lange when the coach was head of the national team in South Africa and maintained links when Lange returned to Germany as a senior national-team coach until late 2011, is the biggest name among the membership of the DLP squad, which includes other London 2012 medallists and podium placers from the 2011 World Cup, in Asia and European junior champion Maxim Shemberev (UKR).
From China, Jiang Hai Qui, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in the 4x200m free and champion for China in the same event at the Asian Games, is joined by Ji Liping, former Asian Games breaststroke champion and 2011 World Championship bronze medallist in the 100m, Olympic team member Chen Cheng, Pu Wen Jie, Shi Wei Jia and Xu Wen.
Some of the new squad will race at the Kranj international meet in Slovenia tomorrow, though efforts will be judged against a background of "a comprehensive endurance training course in Graz, with three swimming workouts a day plus gym work while in Slovakia:, says Lange. Back to Graz and rest on Sunday before the next wave of work begins for a new international team.