Swimming: SSA to appoint new national head coach, performance director

Assistant national swim coach Gary Tan at the OCBC Aquatic Centre during a screening of Joseph Schooling’s 100m butterfly race at the Rio Olympics on Aug 13, 2016.
Assistant national swim coach Gary Tan at the OCBC Aquatic Centre during a screening of Joseph Schooling’s 100m butterfly race at the Rio Olympics on Aug 13, 2016.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) will bring in a new national head coach and performance director, as well as an assistant coach to current National Training Centre (NTC) head coach Gary Tan.

Both appointments have not been named yet and they are expected to be announced before August's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

The new national head coach and performance director's roles are to oversee the overall development of coaches and swimmers at the clubs and to enhance the quality of coaches and swimmers from learn-to-swim to elite levels.

The national head coach and performance director, whom Tan and current SSA technical director Sonya Porter will report to, will also refine the NTC's training programmes and athletes' selection processes.

Said SSA president Lee Kok Choy: "We must be focused on continuing to build a stronger eco-system for high-performance swimming that will ensure the sustainability of our success and a brighter future for Singapore swimming."

These new appointments are part of a revamp of the SSA's talent scouting and development process of high performance athletes.

These include a greater focus on relays at major competitions like the Asian Games and the Olympics, and a stronger synergy with swimming clubs.

A new club excellence programme will be launched, where the swimming clubs will function as "centres of excellence" for the national athletes who train in their respective clubs.

By replicating an environment that is similar to the NTC, the SSA hopes that it will provide clubs with greater support and a clearer pathway in developing elite swimmers from the junior level.

By reorganising their high performance structure, the SSA hopes to increase the supply of elite swimmers and to stop the drain of swimmers who would stop competing after they enter the workforce or when they graduate from school.

In the wake of Joseph Schooling winning Singapore's first Olympic gold medal last year, there was a 20 per cent increase in local athletes' participation in competitions such as the time trials and national age-group competitions. In the same year, 17 out of 38 long course records were broken as well.

Lee said: "SSA's high performance development plan paves the way for greater successes in the long term, enabling us to increase not only participation, but also medal targets at the upcoming SEA Games, Asian Games and Tokyo 2020 Olympics."