SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian swimming received some certainty for the next Olympic cycle with the decision to extend head coach Jacco Verhaeren’s contract until the 2020 Games in Tokyo on Thursday.
The 46-year-old Dutchman took over as head coach in 2013, a year after the Australian team slumped to their worst haul in the pool in 20 years at the London Games.
He has helped oversee a cultural shift in Australia’s elite swimming programme which was battered by allegations of drunkenness and bullying at London.
“Jacco’s vision has been embraced by our coaches, athletes and staff,” Swimming Australia chief executive Mark Anderson said.
“He has a style that brings people along with him on the journey.
“We believe that there is much more that we wish to achieve and that Jacco is the individual to lead that process in his role as national head coach.”
The team finished second behind fellow powerhouse the United States on the swimming medals table at the 2015 world championships in Russia, with seven gold, three silver and six bronze medals.
The contract extension will see Verhaeren in charge for the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and Pan Pacs in Tokyo, the 2019 worlds in South Korea and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“I can say that I am humbled by this opportunity offered by Swimming Australia well before the conclusion of this Olympic cycle,” Verhaeren said.
“In Australia I am very fortunate to be able to work with some of the best coaches and swimmers in the world, to be given the opportunity to extend my work with the team is a great honour.
“After working with the team for almost two years now I am excited with the prospects of the future and how I can continue to support the development of coaches, staff, athletes and the high performance system to stay or become world class.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)