American Cordes opts to train with Lopez in Singapore
American youngster works with Lopez and national team to hit the heights
He received many calls from swimmers wanting to train under him when he was head coach of Bolles School in the United States.
But Sergio Lopez, now the national coach of Singapore's swim team, was surprised when American breaststroke specialist Kevin Cordes called him up earlier this year.
The 21-year-old, who holds the American national (short-course) 100m and 200m breaststroke records, joined Lopez and the Singapore team on June 12, training under Lopez as he works towards the world championships in Kazan, Russia (July 24 to Aug 9) as well as the Rio Olympics next year.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Neo Garden Singapore National Swimming Championships, Lopez said: "I have coached professionals before and had many very good swimmers call me up to say that they wanted to train with me.
"But, at the last moment, they would decide to train with David Marsh or Bob Bowman and that is normal.
"Would they rather live in a high-school environment at Bolles, or would they rather live with the likes of Ryan Lochte, or other swimmers their age?
"I was surprised when Kevin called me up. I told him what we have here and, if he comes, I will help him out because I have coached him for a week with the national team some years ago.
LEAP OF FAITH
"The fact that he said no to the likes of Marsh and Bowman and took the leap of faith to come here, speaks volume of what we have here, in terms of the facilities, the SSI (Singapore Sports Institute) and what we can do for him."
On his decision to come here, Cordes said: "After talking to a couple of my friends and buddies, one of them who trained with Sergio got me in contact with him.
"We just hit it off and it's a new adventure for me, and I am excited."
The University of Arizona graduate clocked 27.54sec to win the men's 50m breaststroke B final easily last night at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, with the A finals meant only for Singaporeans.
The 1.96m-tall Illinois native was pleased with his first competitive outing in about a month and said: "It's a good starting point... My last meet was a month ago and I went a whole second faster (tonight).
"I am pretty pleased with how it went, and I am just going to keep practising every day, keep refining my strokes and working on getting everything better."
The American was able to witness the Singapore swim team's historic 23-gold medal haul at the 28th South-east Asia Games here earlier this month and said it inspired him further to want to do well.
Cordes said: "It's been nice getting to know the team, although I haven't been around them too much with the SEA Games on.
"It was awesome seeing them win medal after medal, and gives me the motivation to do the exact same thing at the Worlds."