At the time of the Tokyo Olympic Games’ postponement announcement, a question began boiling down under as to whether or not Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren would remain at the helm for another year.
The man who has been leading the green and gold since 2013 announced last year he would be returning to Europe after the 2020 Olympic Games, leaving when his contract expires this fall.
However, with the Olympic Games now slated for July 2021, Swimming Australia has confirmed Verhaeren will keep to his plan and hand over the reins to a stalwart of Aussie swimming, Rohan Taylor.
“Choosing not to extend his contract with Swimming Australia – which was due to be completed in November 2020 after the Tokyo Olympics – Verhaeren will now finish in his role at the end of September,” said the organization today.
Verhaeren stated, “I tried to look for ways to extend, but you can’t compromise in a high performance environment, nor did I want to compromise my family.
“I am honoured to have had the opportunity to serve this amazing swim team and nation for almost seven years and I am confident that there are many good people around to ensure the continued success for swimming in this country, and that the team is ready to face any challenge.
“I am incredibly proud of the systems and strategies that have been implemented – from the national relay project, to the reintroduction of national event camps and an improved campaign structure and leadership model.
“But these plans and systems would be nothing without the talented people from across the organisation and our high performance programs that come together to work towards our goals, and I thank them all immensely.
“We have built trust between these people over a period of time and I believe that is a crucial component to achieving high performance success.”
Verhaeren left his role as Technical Director for the Royal Dutch Swimming Federation (KNZB) before heading to Australia. He is among those credited with rehabbing the Aussie swimming culture after a tumultuous 2012 Olympics, which included the ‘Stilnox scandal’ and disappointing results overall in London.
The Dutchman is also responsible for the reshaping of the Australian Trials timing to model that of the United States, with Trials moving closer to the main event. We saw this first be implemented last year in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games and also in 2019 with the World Trials prior to Gwangju.
Incoming Rohan Taylor is moving into the role after having served as State Head Coach for swimming in Victoria. He previously led Nunawading Swimming Club and helped guide Leisel Jones to an Olympic gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell says of Taylor, “I know Rohan is primed to lead the way on the revised journey to Tokyo having worked closely with Jacco over a number of campaigns.”
“His passion and commitment for our athletes, coaches and staff is apparent to everyone who works with him. He has our full support and will work closely with Jacco during the next few months to make the transition as seamless as possible.”
Verhaeren supported the appointment of Taylor into the role and will work with him through a transition period. “I want to congratulate Rohan, who I believe is a great appointment, and wish him and the team all the best for next year and beyond.
“My focus now shifts to supporting the organisation and Rohan through the transition phase until the end of my contract,” he concluded.
Said Taylor of his appointment, “Firstly, I would like to thank Jacco for his friendship and leadership over the past six years. I have been privileged to work as a team coach under him for numerous campaigns and I wish him and his family all the best,” said Taylor.
“Jacco has laid the groundwork for our Olympic campaign and I have worked closely with him and our Olympic leadership team, so believe I am well placed to see those plans through and lead our team to success in Tokyo next year.
“I look forward to working with Jacco during this transition period and beginning work with our high performance programs and Swimming Australia staff as we count down to the Olympics.”