Mirroring a move she made before the 2012 Olympic Games, Dutch freestyler Femke Heemskerk will move to France and join renowned coach Philippe Lucas for the final year leading up to the 2016 Olympics.
France’s L’Equipe has the story here, including a tweet from the former Olympic champ (in its original Dutch) announcing her move:
BREEK! Ik ga een nieuw avontuur aan en vervolg mijn zwemcarrière bij coach Philippe Lucas in Frankrijk. Lees > http://t.co/5lVJGKhEkI
— Femke Heemskerk (@FemkeHeemskerk) September 3, 2015
“I’m going on a new adventure in continuing my swimming career with coach Philippe Lucas in France,” Heemskerk says in the tweet, roughly translated to English.
She also linked out to her own website, where she posted a longer explanation of her decision in both Dutch and English.
Heemskerk noted that her current coach, Marcel Wouda, is also the head coach of the Netherlands’ open water swimmers, and couldn’t dedicate all of his time to training Heemskerk. That led the freestyler to find another coach who could spend more time training her, while still thanking Wouda for coaching her for three years, a period Heemskerk said brought “lots of joy.”
Heemskerk is a 2008 Olympic gold medalist as part of the Dutch 4×100 free relay, a relay that is still among the world’s best 7 years later. Heemskerk won silver with that relay at the 2012 Olympics, and took silver in the event at the 2015 World Championships just about a month ago.
Heemskerk trained in Marseille, France from 2010 to 2012, and the 27-year-old will now train in the nation of France again for a year leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Lucas is a noteworthy coach himself, having coached world record-holders Laure Manaudou of France and Federica Pellegrini of Italy. The two had a high-profile rivalry and traded the 200 freestyle world record, each working with Lucas at different stages in their careers.
Most recently, Lucas has coached another Dutch swimmer, distance-oriented Sharon van Rouwendaal. Van Rouwendaal has had a great run as the Dutch women in general have risen in the past few year. Now with Heemskerk in tow, Lucas will have a chance to greatly impact the Dutch team heading into Rio.