Former German National Team coach Dirk Lange, who was bought out of his contract in December, didn’t take long to hook onto a new gig. He has been hired as the new National Team coach for Mexico, according to a press release on the Mexican Swimming website.
The Mexicans aren’t looking for a quick turnaround, however. The move comes with an eye towards the 2017 World Championships, which are to be hosted in Guadalajara.
Mexico has a strong base of talented swimmers, however, in the current market they all travel out of the country to train. This makes it difficult to establish a large infrastructure and culture of elite training.
Among their top swimmers, National Record holders, and participants at last year’s World Championships, at least two (Rita Medrano and Lili Ibanez) train in the United States at Texas A&M, and two others (Susana Escobar and Israel Duran) were training in Canada at last check. That means at least 4 out of the 9 participants at Worlds train out of the country (and it’s not clear where, exactly, the other 5 train).
This need to establish elite training in Mexico was evident by the comments of both Lange and the chief of Mexican swimming.
“The infrastructure in this country is focused on children and youth with what we can not aim for the medals, we must make a program that focuses on young swimmers looking for sporting maturity, we must work on the technical and physical to see strong performances. this is one of the problems that are so young they do not have all that, which is achieved through years of work and not just a few months, ” Lange said.
The pair toured the altituude training facility in San Luis Potosi, and made some very interesting comments afterwards. Lange said of the area “if teams like Brazil and the United States and Michael Phelps Cesar Cielo, come to train here in preparation towards different skills, why not take advantage of the Mexicans?”
He was referring specifically to the Brazilian PRO16 group that just left the facility after weeks of intensive training. The spot is one of the most popular altitude-training destinations in the world, with large groups from the US and Australia also having worked there in the past year.
Mexico certainly has enough quality facilities to succeed. And though there were some well-earned criticisms of Lange’s tenure in Germany, he has the experience and credentials to bring this elite swimming atmosphere to Mexico.
Prior to Germany, Lange was the National Team Coach in South Africa from 2005-2008. My guess is that Lange will take a very hands-on, day-to-day approach to the coaching of the Mexican National Team (at least those who are training in the country), as compared to what might be seen in larger federations like the United States and Germany, where the job entails more high-level planning and guidance.