Head of the Dutch swim programme Jacco Verhaeren will remain with the KNZB as technical director until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (at least) but is to quit his role on deck as coach at the NZE centre of excellence.
His decision has been announced today at a crowded press conference at the pool named after the triple Olympic champion he coached, the Pieter van den Hoogenband Swimming Stadium in Eindhoven.
The decision to quit the pool deck was not an easy one for Verhaeren. He started his coaching career at MZ&PC Maastricht in 1989 and has since celebrated many a success story at PSV Eindhoven, not least of all the achievements of Van den Hoogenband, Olympic 100m and 200m champion in 2000 (and a bronze in the 50m) and over 100m freestyle once more in 2004, and the Dutch sprint women who took the 2008 Olympic 4x100m free crown. He also guided Ranomi Kromowidjojo to a repeat of Inge de Bruijn's sprint freestyle double of Sydney 2000 at London 2012, over 50 and 100m.
“Combining the work as technical director and trainer has been tough, but that wasn’t the main reason that led to my decision: I felt that I struggled in finding full dedication for the daily guidance of elite swimmers, which can only lead to one conclusion”, said Vehaeren. “That you owe to your athletes.”
Former Dutch international Marcel Wouda will be his successor at the National Training Center in Eindhoven. He started working with Verhaeren's group, including Kromowidjojo, yesterday.
The 2012 double Olympic champion laments Verhaeren’s retirement - but did not try to persuade him to reconsider his decision. Kromowidjojo said she is confident that she can continue her chosen path with Wouda in the coming year. “We know each other from the time that Marcel was the coach of the youth swimming team, I have no doubts there.”
Jan Kossen, CEO of the KNZB, backed Verhaeren’s move, saying: “We’ve been building a swimming structure through junior Training Centers, Regional TC’s and two National TC’s the past four years. Jacco has had a significant share of the imputed effort. Now he can fully focus on his function as Technical Director, and he can find the time to continue building this structure which allows us to rapidly recognize and guide talent. This enlarges the chance of success in the near future. Above that, Jacco’s technical expertise has proven to be highly valuable for the sport in the Netherlands. I’m very pleased that now the opportunity has been created to spread this knowledge across other Dutch coaches.”