Former World Record Holder Marco Koch Changes Coaches 7 Months to Tokyo

German breaststroker Marco Koch has chosen a new coach to lead him to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Koch will begin working with former German National Team head coach Dirk Lange, according to, ending his cooperation with another former German National Team coach Henning Lambertz.

“We have known each other for a very long time and have already worked together successfully in the past,” says Koch, who worked with Lange several times between 2012 and 2015. Koch is expected to spend most of his time training with Lange based in Graz, Austria.

Koch thanked his former coach for their time together, and says that he believes that Lange can help him improve his front-end speed, giving him the opportunity to use his endurance to hold on over the closing meters of his swims.

Koch was the World Record holder in the 200 breaststroke in short course meters, swimming a 2:00.44 in November of 2016. That mark stood until Russia’s Kirill Prigoda broke it at the 2018 World Short Course Championships in 2:00.16. Koch was the 2015 World Champion in long course in the 200 breaststroke, and the 2016 World Champion in short course in both the 100 and 200 breaststrokes He also has 4 European championships. Coming out of his World Championship season, though, Koch finished in just 7th place in his specialty race, the 200 breaststroke, at the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Koch got within a second of his best time at last December’s World Short Course Championships, swimming 2:01.42 for a bronze medal. He had some positive scoring results, but struggled time-wise in his inaugural International Swimming League season for the New York Breakers. His ISL season best came in the American Derby meet in College Park where he went 2:03.79 – slower than he was at that stage in prior years. He won the 200 breaststroke in the Budapest meet in 2:04.27, which again was slower than he had been at that time of year in prior seasons.

He also struggled with speed, which he says is one of his focuses. He was 7th in his last meet of the ISL season in the 100 breaststroke, for example, and a full second behind 6th place. He was last in the 50 breaststroke at that meet.

Koch was 5th in the 200 breaststroke, his only race, at the 2019 World Championships in 2:07.60. That time was .13 seconds slower than his German Record from 2014.

Marco Koch is taking a high risk with his external change of consultant with a view to the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” said competitive sport director of the German Swimming Association Thomas Kurschilgen. “But if you want maximum success, you also have to be willing to go innovative ways.”

Besides Germany, Lange has worked as the head coach of National Teams in both Mexico and South Africa as well. Among his recent well-known charges are Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh.

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It’s not an outrageously strange move, given what’s been going on with Henning but it is worrying that it happened so close to Tokyo. Dirk is an experienced sprint coach, having coached some of the world’s fastest sprinters back in the day (Alshammer, Völker, Foster….) and training possibilities in Graz are VERY good, but I wish he’d made that move a year ago when Henning went cuckoo.


Scozzoli and Van der Burgh trained with/under him as well

Ol' Longhorn

Only question is whether Small, Medium or Large Marco shows up in Tokyo. If it’s Medium or better, he’s a threat regardless of who’s coaching him.


Maybe he should talk to fellow German Mark Warnecke about that amino acid miracle diet of his… loose 20 kilos in 6 months and suddenly become the fastest breaststroker in the world😂


I saw Marco this summer and he looked much much fitter than in years past!


I thought he looked fit, too. But it’s not the first time Ol’ Longhorn has commented on it, so maybe he’s seeing more than we are. 🤷‍♀️


Dirk is a great coach, I wish them both well.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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