Just over 6 months into his role as Head Coach at Singapore Swimming, Swiss-born Aussie Stephan Widmer is crystallizing his vision for progress within the emerging aquatic nation. Speaking with The Straits Times this week, Widmer laid out a multi-point pan for developing the nation’s swimming prowess in the pool, while also strengthening the coaching minds on-deck alongside it.
“It’s know-how and belief we have to create. We’ve got great facilities, the money for the performance side is good, the government is so supportive, so we have to find a way to improve the people on the ground constantly, to give them the belief,” Widmer said this week.
“The idea is to grow a larger group of better-educated local coaches within the next two to three years, and that’s why I’m not working directly with the swimmers.”
Splitting the national team into 4 tiers, each receives a scaled amount of attention and mentorship from Widmer and Singapore Swimming Association Technical Director Sonya Porter. The top-tier, for example, which includes SEA Games medalists and Asian Games finalists, will receive more individual attention than the lower tiers.
Widmer stated, “The main thing will be learning to individualise preparations more, so it’s about looking at the history of the athlete. What are their splits, what do world-class standards look like, what can they handle and then designing sessions and sets that replicate race stresses and pace.”
In addition to coaching and athlete focus, Widmer’s overall plan intends to focus on competitions, support staff and parents. As to support staff, Widmer is seeking out 4 to 6 younger coaches who ‘will be placed on the fast track in order to accelerate the growth of the talent pool,’ according to his description to The Straits Times.
“What I’m looking for are specialists, specialists in sprinting but also specialists in coaching female swimmers,” he said. “Obviously half the swimmers are females but the higher percentage of coaches are male so we hope to have some talented female coaches join the game and teach us a few things.”
Regarding parents, Widmer is aiming to coordinate upwards of 25 workshops to help educate parents and athletes on subjects such as nutrition and sleep.