Swimming: Lopez a hot name

Swimming: Lopez a hot name
Joseph Schooling (right) celebrating his silver-medal achievement in the 100m butterfly event with his coach Sergio Lopez at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre on 28 July 2014.

In all her years as part of the national swim team, Amanda Lim has never been asked to attend a team high-performance meeting, along with her parents.

This Friday, the 21-year-old freestyle specialist and other Singapore swimmers, along with their parents, will do just that.

The word going around the fraternity is that the appointment of a new national coach is imminent, and possibly announced at that meeting.

Sergio Lopez, who coached Asian Games gold medallist Joseph Schooling at the Bolles School in Florida, is widely tipped to take over Briton Ian Turner, who left his post as national coach and technical director after the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July.

Lopez, a bronze medallist in the men's 200m breaststroke at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, has been seen in Singapore at least on one occasion since the Glasgow Games.

In response to queries last night, a spokesperson from the Singapore Swimming Association said an announcement would be made in due course.

Asked about Lopez, Lim said: "If it is true it will be a good appointment. He has been with the Singapore team at various major Games over the years and he already knows most of us."

CARES

"He clearly cares for the team, even though he wasn't coaching all of us during these Games," said Tao Li.

"He gave me pointers occasionally during the Asian Games (in Incheon in October)," added the 2013 South-east Asia (SEA) Games women's 50m freestyle gold medallist.

Teammate and fellow freestyle specialist Danny Yeo did not know about the speculation surrounding Lopez, but said: "He is a very good coach... he is very easy to get along with and to talk to, and he is professional."

"I think he can bring Singapore swimming to the next level if he is appointed," added the 24-year-old, who clinched two golds and a bronze at the 2013 SEA Games.

While Lopez will be a welcome addition to the SSA's high-performance team, Lim also hopes that local coaches will be given the chance to lead the national team in the future.

She said: "As good as the likes of Sergio and Ian are, ultimately they will not stay here forever, and sometimes foreign coaches stay only for a short period.

"Perhaps the permanent solution would be for the SSA to groom local coaches to eventually take over."


This article was first published on Nov 18, 2014.
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