Gary Tan Officially Appointed Singapore Head Coach After Widmer’s Departure

The Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) has announced that Gary Tan will take over as the National Swimming Head Coach, effective immediately. Tan most recently served as the National Training Centre (NTC) Head Coach under the previous National Swimming Head Coach Stephan Widmer.

We reported how Aussie Stephan Widmer, who had been the Singaporean head coach since 2017, mutually parted ways with Singaporean Swimming recently to join a Chinese club.

When Widmer entered the role, he took over from then-head coach Sergio Lopez, who revealed in 2016 he would be leaving after the Tokyo Olympics to pursue NCAA coaching in the United States.

At the time, Lopez had backed Gary Tan to replace him in the role.  39-year-old Tan himself is a two-time Olympic swimmer who retired in 2006 and whose past swimmer arsenal included siblings Quah Ting Wen and Zheng Wen.

He was an integral part of the SGP success at the 2017 Southeast Asia Games (SEA) in Malaysia where the nation reaped 19 golds, a total which was bested at the 2019 edition of the competition. He also won the Coach of the Year at the Singapore Sports Awards 2018.

Per SSA’s announcement, the organization said, “We were looking for a candidate that has the technical competence, track record and understanding of Singapore’s competitive swimming eco-system. Gary impressed us the most and displayed that he has gained the expertise after having come under the tutelage of Sergio Lopez and Stephan Widmer in the last seven years.

“SSA is delighted to have appointed Gary as our new national head coach as we believe that Gary is the best fit amongst all the candidates to influence the NTC and affiliate clubs, to mentor local coaches, to continue to bring forth world class expertise through his connections with leading experts in the world, to adapt and relate to the local swimming ecosystem of athletes, coaches, and clubs, and have a strong burning desire to make Singapore a world class aquatic nation”, said Mr Lee Kok Choy, President of SSA.

“We hope that Gary’s appointment will inspire more local coaches to take up coaching as a profession and follow his pathway to be a world-class high-performance coach in Singapore. Gary’s immediate task as National Head Coach will be to oversee the implementation of the SSA’s long-term plans for swimming high performance following a comprehensive review after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and to navigate challenges surrounding COVID-19.”

On his appointment, Tan said, “Having represented the nation as an athlete, a club coach and a NTC coach, I am living my dream to be able to lead the development of swimming in my home country. I am proud to be tasked with the role of continuing the legacy of Singapore’s success in swimming at the major competitions. There will be many challenges ahead but together with my team, I am ready to face them and do my best for Singapore.

“We want to develop and support our swimmers to achieve sustained podium success at Asian, Olympic and World Championships, through good and sustainable investment in the development of our clubs, athletes and coaches. Knowing the local landscape and struggles that clubs and swim school businesses face during this period, I will reach out to all our affiliates to address their issues and provide adequate help. The success of clubs/swim schools are crucial as they are the backbone of our system and provide the talent pipeline for the national team. We will need to rebuild a core group of swimmers through a system-based approach in both the clubs and the NTC, giving our swimmers access to an elite training environment daily.”

“I hope that my appointment would also serve as a pathway that many young local coaches can strive and work towards. I believe that we need to have a bigger crop of young local coaches coming through as we look to build up their capabilities. I will be fully invested in ensuring that we accelerate the transfer and application of technical knowledge gained on coaching education to a broader base of local coaches.”

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2 years ago

Well done Gary. However having spent many years in SG, they need to look at why Sergio and Stephan were not successful. The middle management and sport SG are the real problem and this appointment is about getting a “yes” man in post over the ambitious foreign coach.

Sergio Lopez Miro
2 years ago

Congrats Gary!!!

I could not be happier for you and for Singapore. Singapore is full of talent and with your leadership, knowledge, experience and love for your country the sky is the limit. #believe #majulasingapura🇸🇬

2 years ago

Is he the father of Kayla and Zach from DART?

Stan Crump
2 years ago

Congrats, Gary!!!! Very deserving of this.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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