Swimming: Coach Widmer to advise SSA?

Australian swim coach Stephan Widmer speaking to local coaches after a coaching clinic at the Sports Hub. He is in Singapore for a week to conduct a series of clinics.
Australian swim coach Stephan Widmer speaking to local coaches after a coaching clinic at the Sports Hub. He is in Singapore for a week to conduct a series of clinics.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Big-name Australian, here to conduct clinics, could be consultant for Singapore swim body

With an eye on building on the momentum generated by Joseph Schooling's historic Olympic gold, the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) could be adding more depth to its coaching ranks.

The Straits Times (ST) understands the SSA is exploring the possibility of appointing highly-regarded Australian coach Stephan Widmer as a consultant to guide the overall coaching staff.

Two-time Olympian Gary Tan is head coach of the National Training Centre squad, essentially the national team. He is assisted by technical director Sonya Porter and National Youth Sports Institute (NYSI) head swim coach Leonard Tan in the national set-up.

The 50-year-old Swiss-born Widmer comes with an impressive resume, having groomed Olympic champions Libby Trickett, Leisel Jones and Jessicah Schipper. His swimmers have set more than 20 world records and won more than 16 world championship titles.

Widmer, who is in Singapore to conduct a series of coaching clinics this week and has met SSA officials like president Lee Kok Choy and vice-president (swimming) Joscelin Yeo, declined to confirm if there would be a long-term commitment with the association.

He told ST yesterday: "(The coaching clinics) are a great initiative from them... I can add a little bit, another consultant can come and add something else."

In his role as Swimming Queensland's head coach, Widmer - who was named the country's swimming coach of the year four times (2005-07, 2009) and part of the coaching team for three Olympics (2004-12) - trains coaches and not swimmers.

STRIKE THE IRON WHILE IT'S HOT

It won't be easy but the moment will never be better than now. You have the belief that anything is possible and must capitalise on it.

STEPHAN WIDMER , renowned coach in the Australian swimming team, urging Singapore to ride on the wave created by Olympic champion Joseph Schooling.

He had previously worked with top swimmers from countries like China, France and Britain.

Widmer noted that what Schooling had achieved in Rio de Janeiro presented a golden opportunity for Singapore to reach the next level and become more professional and educated about swimming.

"It won't be easy but the moment will never be better than now," he said. "You have the belief that anything is possible and must capitalise on it."

One area that can be improved is grooming more coaches, both at the club and grassroots levels.

These people have passion and are working tirelessly on the ground but may not always have access to the best support or modern coaching methods, he said.

"You have to support these coaches but also challenge them in a healthy way... so that they become better coaches for their swimmers," he added.

Aside from Schooling, there is a pool of talent in the Republic, he observed. The men's 4x100m medley quartet narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Rio Olympics and, alongside the 4x100m freestyle team, have been earmarked for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

He said: "The men's relay teams should be competitive at the world level. I'm not saying winning or earning a medal but definitely making the finals of a world championship potentially."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2017, with the headline 'Coach widmer to advise SSA?'. Print Edition | Subscribe