January officially ended Jacco Verheren‘s time in the key leadership role within Dutch swimming. Verhaeren was in the role as the Technical Director of KNZB for an eight year period, which went from 2006-2014. In that time the country had great success finishing sixth (2 gold) at the 2008 Olympics and fourth (2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze) at the 2012 Olympics.
After his departure 62 year old Joop Alberda took the reigns of the organization. Alberda did not have any experience in the sport swimming, he came in with a successful history in the sport of volleyball, this is something that he hopes has brought a fresh outlook to the organization and its future.
Currently the organization is evaluating their structure and the sport as a whole. The plan is to have a vision and direction in place before hiring someone who is capable of carrying out that plan, “You must have clear vision of where swimming is going and then you look to see who might be for the role of technical director,” Alberda told NU.nl.
“If you do it the other way, then you are going to appoint someone who has his own vision and policy is going to make it and then give meaning to, that does not seem sensible.”
Although it is still not decided whether Alberda will not be the one in that role after the European Championships in August all signs are pointing to a new director being hired.
This not necessarily something that everyone in the Netherlands thinks may be the best decision, “I think it would be awfully nice if he continues to Rio,” said coach Martin Truijens, who coaches Sebastiaan Verschuren and Inge Dekker.
“To finish the job with us and create a stable situation.”
Truijens is very supportive of Alberda and thinks that he is the right man to stabilize the organization after their leader of eight years has now moved on.
“After the departure of Jacco we had a particular need for someone who us the mirror held in terms of organization, in terms of ways of working with each other and he does very well. If he leaves, there will be someone new and we are a part of the process to go through again. “
There are several within the swimming community that being just two years out from the Rio Olympics believe the priority needs to be stabilizing the structure and to have consistent leadership heading into the games.
When examining the structure of the organization though there are two changes that Alberda has focused in on and collected coaches input on. The first is the structure of the National Training Centres. Currently there are four centres with approximately five swimmers at each. There two centres located in Eindhoven, one in Amsterdam and one in Drachten. Although there is no specific plan for what changes will be made Alberda has made it clear that he feels that the system is too fragmented and inefficient.
The second is a focus on the development of young talent. Many were excited about the potential that they saw in their young swimmers at a recent training camp, but all those involved acknowledge that they must do a better job in this area,”The growth of youth should be better,” says Truijens. “But if I am looking at the youth here, then it is really an improvement compared to a few years ago.”