SYDNEY - Highly-respected Dutchman Jacco Verhaeren was Thursday appointed as Australia's new swimming team head coach to help restore its reputation after a dismal London Olympics.
The 44-year-old, best known for guiding Dutch greats Pieter van den Hoogenband and Inge de Bruijn to Olympic success at the Sydney and Athens Games, had been technical director of the Dutch team until resigning this week.
He replaces Leigh Nugent who quit the post in March after poor results in London 2012, a campaign marred by ill-discipline, drug use and drunkenness.
Swimming Australia president John Bertrand said his appointment was another step in enhancing a "world's best" approach for the sport.
"To become the best in the world requires four key links in a chain. World-class administration of the sport, world-class technology, world-class athletes - both as individuals and as a team - and world-class coaching," he said.
"High-performance teams require strong cultural values of trust, integrity, transparency of communication, respect for others and having fun. Jacco lives all of these values."
Having coached at the last five Olympic Games, Verhaeren said the chance to work in Australia with some of the best athletes and coaches in the world was too good to pass up.
"Australian swimming is extremely well respected on the international stage and to have the chance to work with the athletes and coaches in this role is humbling," said the Dutchman, who most recently coached sprint sensation Ranomi Kromowidjojo to 50m and 100m freestyle gold at London.
"In the Netherlands we are a small swimming nation that has worked hard technically to maximise every opportunity.
"We've had some success working on those technical elements and I hope to bring that focus and drive to this new role in Australia."
London was Australian swimming's first Games without an individual gold medal since the 1976 Montreal Olympics and its worst record haul - of one gold medal, six silver and three bronze - since 1992 in Barcelona.
Two independent inquiries into what went wrong pointed to a squad lacking leadership and found "toxic" incidents such as drunkenness and bullying had gone unchecked.
Among the revelations were that members of the six-man 4x100m freestyle relay squad had taken sleeping pills banned by the Australian Olympic Committee and played pranks at a pre-games training camp.