Singapore swim coach one of world's best: American university

Singapore swim coach one of world's best: American university
Sergio Lopez
PHOTO: The New Paper

It is official - outgoing Singapore swimming coach Sergio Lopez will join Auburn University as its associate head coach.

The university released a statement yesterday morning (Singapore time) confirming the appointment.

"It is an honour for me to be part of such committed student-athletes, coaches and staff," said the 47-year-old American, in the statement.

"I have no doubts that working alongside coach Hawke and his staff, we will be able to make the Auburn tradition even stronger."

Lopez (left) was referring to Auburn head coach Brett Hawke, who said: "We're extremely excited to have a coach of Sergio's calibre join the Auburn family.

"I've always admired his work from a distance. He has a way of getting the best out of his athletes and has always done a masterful job of building a team.

"Young men and women really love swimming for Sergio. I truly believe we have gained one of the world's leading coaches.

"The future of Auburn swimming and diving looks really bright."

Auburn have an impressive swimming tradition - the women won five NCAA titles from 2002 to 2007, while the men won eight titles from 1997 to 2009 - but have not done well in recent years.

They finished sixth this season, while Texas, aided by Singapore's Joseph Schooling, topped the standings.

Lopez, the 1988 Olympic men's 200m breaststroke bronze medallist, shocked many in the local swimming fraternity with his resignation on Friday, with many swimmers in the National Training Centre (NTC) squad reportedly in tears when he broke the news to them.

His recruitment in November 2014 was seen as a coup for Singapore swimming, given his previous success in developing talents like Schooling, Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Murphy at The Bolles School in Florida.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Lopez started work at the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) in January last year and just completed 16 months of a five-year contract.

In that time, he guided Singapore swimmers to win a record 23 golds at the South-east Asia Games last year and coached Quah Zheng Wen to achieve Olympic 'A' marks in the men's 100m backstroke, 100m butterfly and 200m butterfly.

Despite his resignation, the American, whose wife and two children are here in Singapore with him, has pledged to do his best in his final assignment here - getting the Republic's swim team in shape and taking charge of them at the Rio Olympics in August.

The team will leave at the end of this month for the US for their final preparations for the Rio Olympics in August.

Meanwhile, national assistant coach Gary Tan will be acting head coach and take charge of the NTC squad, while the SSA searches for a successor for Lopez.

sayheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 1, 2016.
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