Australia Opts For Jacco Verhaeren As Head Coach

Jacco Verhaeren, with Ranomi Kromowidjojo in Barcelona, but Cate Campbell in Kazan

Australia has appointed Dutchman Jacco Verhaeren, mentor to sprinters Pieter van den Hoogenband and Ranomi Kromowidjojo, as its had coach. Verhaeren is currently the technical director for the Dutch Swimming Federation but will start his new role in Australia in January

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Australia has appointed Dutchman Jacco Verhaeren, mentor to sprinters Pieter van den Hoogenband and Ranomi Kromowidjojo, as its had coach. Verhaeren is currently the technical director for the Dutch Swimming Federation but will start his new role in Australia in January




this is only a great news for Cate Campbell… it may bore you but I’ve been saying repeatedly for months how working with Verhaeren will take Campbell to another level where she can break both WRs.

Craig Lord

I think she’s made great strides with Simon Cusack (who will continue to coach her, of course) 🙂


Exciting times ahead for Australian swimming that’s for sure..I just hope Jacco will be accepted and respected by everyone in Australian swimming, and his that his tenure will not be fraught with controversies.. I look forward to seeing what he contributions he can have on the Aussies in the lead up to Rio!



in no way I’m trying to undermine Cusack’s extremely skilful coaching and the results have spoken for itself, but Campbell can definitely improve her start a LOT MORE. She had the SLOWEST start out of 16 semifinalists in 50 free in Barcelona!

Just look at what Verhaeren did with kromowidjojo’s amazing start, turn and underwater.

Craig Lord

Absolutely. Your point is good

paul h

Looks like Australia will return to the top of world swimming now

Lennart van Haaften

Great and timely move for Verhaeren and Australia, but a big loss for the Dutch team.:P It’ll be interesting to see what Verhaeren can do for a larger pool of elite swimmers than he is used to.

Australian swim fan

Once again a major mistake from Swimming Australia – you can only shake your head and wonder where the board of swimming Australia has been throughout the year – cricket, rugby and only last week football – non Australian coaches have been sacked for under performance of the national team. All these sports have or will opt for Australian coaches again after in different experiment with non-australian coaches. In all three cases much has been written about the inability of non-Australian coaches to understand the unique culture of Australian sporting teams. And here we have swimming – probably after cricket the closest thing Australia has to a national sport at both an elite level and grass rootes/recreational level opting for a non Australian coache – particularly when this country has so many outstanding coaches currently operating in Australia and overseas defies understanding and logic. John Bertand / Michael Scott needs to have a long meeting with Bill Pulver CEO of Australian Rugby.
Australia had a chance to get things right and has blown it again.
Just on another note to indicate in the article above that the Netherlands doesn’t have swimming culture the equal Australia is a little off target. Particularly in women’s swimming the Netherlands historically has been the equal of Australia if not a shade more successful at Olympic level – throughout the 1930s, 40s, 70s & 80s the Netherlands have out performed Australia.
Australian sporting teams have a special culture that needs to be understood in an insightful manner to really achieve results at international level – Don Talbot had this understanding in abundance and even he had to leave the country for stint in Canada because Swimming Australia didn’t understand this need in the 70s and 80s – two decades Australian swimming would prefer to forget from a performance perspective.
Australian swim fan

Craig Lord

Interesting thoughts.

I hear what you say about history and that thought works on sprint freestyle. Extend the thought to most other Olympic events and the picture of the two nations is very very different, especially in recent times. Not hard to work out who would win an AUS Vs NED duel of all Olympic events, women and men.

On cultural difference, such things are significant. But I think any cultural issues that may be raised with Jacco Verhaeren’s arrival pale by comparison to the cultural and leadership issues plaguing Aussie sport (in the boardroom… swimming too, of late).

Swimming Fan

Wake up Australian Swim fan, you arguments are purely emotive and have no rationale substance. Jacco’s appointment is a great step forward for swimming in Australia.

John Volkers

Dutch coaches (in most of the sports) are well known for their quality of adaptation. Coming from a small country Dutchmen are used to work with the reigning cultures and conditions of bigger countries, but bring in a touch of themselves. This mix can be succesfull. Think of Guus Hiddink who brought a lot of knowledge in Ozzie soccer. Jacco comes to Goldcoast to pay back for Forbes Carlile, the Australian coach who teached the Netherlands new training methods in the sixties. If one can succeed in Oz, this is Jacco Verhaeren. I guess.
We say farewell to him and feel regrets that he is leaving is. It were wonderfull years for us press people, to work with this wonderful gentleman who cares for a laugh and a good statement.


Sometimes a bit of outside culture can be a very good thing. Danish swimming has been on a historic high for the last few years and in large part we owe that to foreign coaches. Firstly Mark Regan, and then even more so, Paulus Wildeboer. Paulus was successful because he wasn’t afraid to challenge the ‘Danish way’ of doing things, he opened everyone’s eyes up to new possibilities and what it took to compete at the international level. Often it made him quite unpopular but no one could argue with his results. I appreciate that the comparison isn’t the same with Australia’s rich tradition in swimming, but my point stands, sometimes you have to do things differently, look at things differently, and it can be easier for an ‘outsider’ to come in and make the necessary changes.

Australia have some great young talents as we saw at the junior world championships so things can only continue to improve and I’m sure Jacco Verhaeren will play a big part in that. I wish our Australian friends all the best.

Sydney Swim Parent

Your comments are 100% spot on John as Guus Hiddick first came to my mind too. But how can you compare preparing a swim team to those of Cricket, Rugby or Soccer when swimmers have their own coaches to prepare for major events and these other teams are coached by the Head Coaches leading up to and during a tournament.

I have been impressed how SAL have changed both in Administration, High Performance and the culture is changing under Micahel Scott. I’m really looking forward to seeing Jacco Verhaeren pass on his years of experience as we aim to become a swim power again.

We have James and Cate and the girls relay team as a foundation, things are on the way up.

Australian swim fan

The point made earlier is not an emotive point it is a very hot topic in this country. The point on Guss Hiddick is on face value reasonable but there are those questioning this decision and asserting that the current trouble with the soceroos performance can be traced back to this decision – check out an article in The Canberra Times. Cricket is our national sport and the national rugby team the Wallabies is one of the top sporting brands in the country, both sports have this year sacked non-Australian coaches for lack of performance of the respective sports at the heart of this lack of performance has been the inability of the coaches to fully understand the unique culture of their respective sports. Europeans have greater exposure to working on an international stage than Australians who have had a more isolationist history. The comments above have nothing to do with the quality of the coaches – both Micky Arthurs and Robbie Deans are great coaches but they couodn’t transfer that expertise into results that satisfied the Australian national bodies. My point is that there are so many excellent Australian coaches – it is not like we don’t have any talent to pick from. Your point about leadership in Australian sport is a point worthy of discussion but don’t forget the Australian Institute of Sport has become the model that many nations have followed eg UK. Australian swimming is going through a tough time we don’t need to add another layer of variables with a non-Australian coach we need to put an Australian in who understands the traditional culture – the issue with Australian swimming is more about team culture rather than technical coaching issue – although the tapering of the national team does appear to be an issue of some concern – any way you do need to understand the broader issue in this matter rather than simply focusing on the just swimmming.


In th context of swimming, I don’t understand the logic of your arguments. The recent issues that have plagued Australian swimming came during times when Australian head coaches were at the helm. Therefore, just because someone is an Australian coach, is no guarantee that they necessarily understand the “traditional culture” which you speak of… I would like to think they chose Jacco based on his merit and experience relative to other applicants, and not simply because of someone’s nationality…

Australian swim fan

Sorry unless you are aware of the debate going on in this country over the issue of non-Australian national coaches you can’t really understand the national context of this issue. Given the current national climate this is PR disaster of the most significant type for Swimming Australia. Just because one head Australian coach was held responsible for what happened in London doesn’t mean there are not other Australian coaches capable of doing a great job.
Culture is the most important thing that national coach has to get right and as the original article above identifies there are significant difference between Australian and Dutch culture in even simple things like a pre championship press conference.
Australian swimfan.

Craig Lord

I think that all arguments for why Australia would or would not, should or should not, have appointed an Australian, are valid but it is important to understand that those issues do not reflect on Jacco Verhaeren (who knows what he’s doing – and knows it very well, and will bring good things) … the debate about how Australia came to a place where it thinks it has no-one at home who wants or is capable of doing the head coach job against a background of specific cultural understanding is one that was bound to run in a country with a very long tradition of punching well beyond its weight in water (it is a valid debate and on that the board of Swimming Australia is doubtless acutely aware of, one would imagine…)

Australian swim fan

But what message does this decision give all Australian coaches ? Is it that the second strongest swimming nation in the world does not have a single person capable of leading the the national team – I don’t beleive that the All Blacks or Spingboks in Rugby or Brazil or Argentina in Football or the USA in track and field would ever contemplate appointing anyone other than a national to the helm of their sport.
Those who think there is no team culture in swimming similar to any team sport really don’t understand the nature of the sport. Swimming just as much as Rugby, Cricket or Football dependes on a positive team culture – you don’t have to look any further than Australia’s London experience from a negative perspective or Bejing/Athens/Sydney and all the world championships leading up to Bejing from a positive perspective to get that message. Swimming due to its environmental factors is very much a team sport. A postive team outlook rubs off on all involved in the sport.
One last point you don’t see other major Australian sports venturing down that path after the experiences of Rugby/Cricket/Football – eg Tennis, Netball, Rugby League, Rowing, Cycling, Kayaking and the list goes on. Track and Field have tried and still flounder at the bottom of the international medal tables come world and olympic championships.
And lastly this is in no way about Jacco he is an exceptional coach and has done wonders for the Netherlands particularly in men’s swimming – an area of swimming in which the Netherlands have never really excelled until his arrival.
Australian Swimfan

Australian swim fan

My last point on this matter -read the Australian media on this matter the misgivings I indicate above are every where in the reports on Jacco’s appointment – strart with articles in with the Murdoch press.
Australian swimfan

Craig Lord

Absolutely. I honestly can’t imagine a time when USA Swimming would ever replace the likes of Bob Bowman, Frank Busch etc with an overseas pick, for example.

Personal Best

Some valid points… but swimming is an entirely different sport compared to cricket or football. The swimmers continue to work with their own coaches for the majority of the time.
Anyway, a global sport like swimming has seen many ‘non Australian’ coaches lead our swimmers to great things.
Many of our swimmers train overseas and Stefan Widmar, though in the country for a very long time is for purposes of this discussion culturally ‘non Australian’.

We’ll see how it works.

Not necessarily so.

Australia swim fan – you are speaking rubbish . The Murdoch press does not own the sport & in fact rarely covers it. Who cares what they say.?

Many general sport fans will remember Inge & Peter from 2000 & would add up that if this was their coach , then he must be pretty good. I believe they will welcome him because Inge & Peter were very popular.

I think the position will be different than previously . It is also good to have someone impartial to the various programms around the nation.

As to australancoaches – I can’t think of anybody ready to take it on.

Not necessarily so.

Also the last 3 Australian coaches have been forced to resign.

The first because of an a sex assault case – legally dismissed . The second because of an anonymous allegation sent to a ( yes) Murdoch paper . So you can stick that line of attack where it belongs.

The third because of not being able to angle the ‘culture’ x roads between old school & contemporary Australian culture.

I am 100% confident Jacco will give due attention to the girls side of the team for a change.

Australian swim fan

Please get your facts right before you put them into print. The facts are as follows – which sets the record right :
1989-2001 Australian Head coach Don Talbot
2002 Austrlalian Head coaches Alan Thompson and Alan Woods
2004 Austrlian Head coach Leigh Nugent – resigned nothing to do with any accusations
2005-2009 Alan Thompson stepped downed while unsubstantiated claims were investigated – these claims did not involve assualt or any criminal matters. An independent committee investigated these clains and they were dismissed as having no substance. Alan went on to become general manager of Canterbury Rugby Club and in March this year there was some discussion about his return to the top job at swimming Australia – but his role at Canterbury involved a contracted time.
2009-2013 Leigh Nugent – stood down over issues arising out of the teams London performance.
Get your facts right.
Just to put a name out there what about Brett Hawkes.
Australian swimfan

Craig Lord

Hi Australian swimfan, it would help if you preface your comment with the name of the person you’re addressing (I don’t think this is addressed to the article – but to the comment of another reader). Thanks

Australian swim fan

Sorry I assumed because it followed the comment to wish I responding it woukd be self evident – but your does make sense – no peoblems with the article Craig.
Just to put the record straight the email above was addressed to “not necessarily so”
To further put the record straight Don Talbot retired, in 2002 Alan Thompson and Alan Woods were an interim appoint, in 2004 Leigh Nugent returned to his previous role as Head Youth Coach a decision he made by himself he was not pushed, then in 2009 Alan Thompson resigned in the wake of a unsubstantiated letter sent to a Murdoch newspaper swimming Australian went to great lengths to point out to the public that the accusiations did not involve any criminal matter or assult charges Alan was completelt cleared there is no way he would have been appointed general mansger of Canturbery NRL club if there had been any substance to the claims. In march this year there were some newspaper claims that swimming Australia were sounding Alan out again for the role – but there claims have never been substantiated.
I think you may be confused with Scott Volkers in the 90s he was never head coach.
Australian swimfan

Not necessarily so.

To Australan Swim fan –

You forgot Greg Hodge who was Australian head coach . He was forced to step aside due to accusations from a girl from a very troubled family. I happen to know several swimmers who testified .i also happen to know he received very little help from his fellow coaches.

Nugent stepped in as substitute coach for 2004 . Alan Thompson ( then coach at Nswis) ) was not at all interested at that time but was later convinced.

I happen to have grown up in the Bulldog vicinity & have a pretty good contacts in the club if I needed any info . I do not . I am pleased to see they avoided the ‘supplement’ wave & thus James Magnussen was not dragged in.

One time I passed through a room & Alan was trapped with this young lady who was weeping uncontrollably . I spotted danger & hung around within sight so that this incident – whatever it was about – was not interpreted wrongly. I was concerned that he should have put himself in this position. Yes it was the very coaching conference that the Murdoch allegation emanated from.

Leigh Nugent did not do a good job for the London Olympics . Too much energy money & time on 4 older swimmers in 2011- trials .unfortunately Libby Trickett – the only survivor caused discontent from day one due to her entitlement attitude fostered by this unearned attention. Full marks to the women’s 4×100 team coach & especially Brittany Elmslie who replaced Trickett & went on to swim a Pb. Pretty disgraceful that a head coach allowed this insubordination .

I look forward to Jacco .

The end.

Craig Lord

Hi Not necessarily so – I removed the words in brackets after the word family in case that could be misconstrued as defamation. Thanks for your understanding.

Denis Cotterell

Jacco will be well received by the Australian swimming Coaches and community. His character, personality, and achievements are well known and respected. Denis Cotterell

Shannon Rollason

Couldn’t agree more with Dennis.Well said. Shannon Rollason

Australian swim fan

Not necessarily so you are now going into in appropriate areas for a discussion such as this – my discussion is more about the nationality of the coach not antedotal observations and claims about other coaches.
But just to get the record straight Greg Hodge was high performance director not head coach – a position that was recreated on the appiontment of Leigh Nugent in 2004. Greg was not found guity of any offence and is still coaching in WA (I think). He was actually award substantial damages as a consequence of the whole process.
Australian swimfan

Sydney Swm Parent

Australian Swim Fan, get off your high horse and show some respect to 2 coaches that have done a lot of work with world renown swimmers for this country.

I for one am glad that Denis and Shannon came on here and passed on their thoughts..thankyou.

I hope Australian swimmers and Jacco excel in the coming years while you sit in your loungeroom eating humble pie

Australian swim fan

Sydney swim parent you need to read the comments more carefully. you obviously haven’t connected my comments to the right email I think you need to be more careful about how you read messages. my comments were not directed at Dennis or Shannon they were in response to the email from “not necessarily so” two emails before Dennis and Shannon be careful in future about the respect you show others! I hope you have been following the developments in Australian soccer today – you need to develop a more inquirying mind and take in the evidence. Lastly nothing I have said has been disrespectful to any coach – if you take tome to read all the email you will be aware that I have made the point this is not about any problem or critisism of Jacco I have said clearly I think he is an exceptional coach – move away from the emotion and look at the supporting evidence prestened.

Australian swimfan

Australian swim fan

Dear Sydney swim parent just to put the record right I am not a loungeroom dweller I have been a professional swimming coach, a competitive swimmer and a PE teacher in charge of the swimming program at two of the most successful independent schools swimming wise in Australia. And I have been a passionate and close follower of Australian swimming since the glory days of the late 50s and 60s.
Just putting my points into context.
Denis and Shannon speak in a positive manner because at this point in time all Australian coaches have no other alternative now that the appointment has been made.
Australian swimfan

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