Widmer set for swimming's hot seat
Singapore Swimming Association to unveil Australian as national coach soon
The national swim coach position at the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) has been vacant since Sergio Lopez left after the Rio Olympics last year.
Sources have told The New Paper that the national sports association has found a candidate to fill that post, and an announcement will be made soon.
Singapore swimming's top job is likely to go to Swiss-born Australian Stephan Widmer, who is currently the head coach of Swimming Queensland and was here in January to give talks and conduct clinics for coaches and swimmers.
The 50-year-old Widmer has coached world-class swimmers such as Libby Trickett, Leisel Jones, Jessicah Schipper and Christian Sprenger, all of whom have set world records in their respective events.
A source, who has knowledge of Widmer's impending arrival, told TNP: "He has coached quite a number of good Australian swimmers... and I believe he will have his own ideas and plans when he is appointed.
"I don't see why he will not be his own man when he comes to Singapore.
"But he also has to adapt to our environment as well, and accept facts such as National Service for boys, and that swimmers may not always turn up when exams are around the corner."
According to Widmer's LinkedIn profile, his coaching concept is "based on a process-driven and race pace-specific training model, employing people management skills, exploring human behaviour and a complex understanding of swimming techniques".
The SSA announced its intention to hire a new national coach and performance director when it unveiled its high-performance masterplan for swimming in March this year.
Among the criteria for the top post are experience in coaching top swimmers, and the ability to mentor coaches.
Then, SSA president Lee Kok Choy said he hoped to make the appointment before the South-east Asia Games in Kuala Lumpur in August.
Lee added then that the association was looking at "several candidates" from "two or three continents".
The new head coach and performance director will head a team of three, which includes National Training Centre (NTC) head coach Gary Tan and technical director Sonya Porter, on issues such as expanding Singapore swimming's high-performance plan and development of local coaches.
Former national swimmer Tao Li has trained with Widmer before, and said the Australian is a great coach.
"Every coach and his training plan are unique in their own ways, but I like Widmer's because I felt that his sprint programme was really intensive, and I liked it," said the 27-year-old butterfly specialist, who trained under Widmer in Australia for two months almost 10 years ago.
"Also, he is a nice person and took good care of me when I trained under him."