Dutch camp fever is running wild at the Thanyapura Sports and Leisure Club in Phuket, Thailand. The Netherlands national team, headed by coach and director Jacco Verhaeren and including double Olympic sprint queen Ranomi Kronowidjojo, arrived January 13.
Their camp overlaps with visits by partner Federica Pellegrini and Filippo Magnini, of Italy, while the Hungarian national team will soon arrive, followed by the Liaoning Swim Team from China from January 27 with Swiss coach and former Australia team staffer Stephan Widmer, and then a Britain team from February 4.
Spotted in the pool doing drills alongside the current Dutch team was Pieter Van den Hoogenband, the Olympic 100m free champion of 2000 and 2004. No news on a comeback just yet…
And no great mystery why so many world-class swimmers have chosen to take advantage of great rates at this place. The Thanyapura club is a five-star facility that will soon be able to claim a part in the success story of those heading for Barcelona world titles this summer.
For Widmer, the six-week Liaoning camp marks the start of a new era, with Chinese money continuing to deplete the Aussie system of some of its key minds.
He quit his post as head swim coach for the Queensland Academy of Sport after the London Olympics to head home to Switzerland. Along the way, a new diversion showed up.
Among the 23 swimmers Widmer will work with in Phuket are Wang Haibing, Cheng Feiyi and Li Xiayan, who raced at the Super Series in Perth today for China.