To establish the Republic as one of the top swimming nations in the next five years, the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) has appointed Sergio Lopez as the new national coach.
The former coach of Singapore swim star Joseph Schooling will begin start work on Jan 1, 2015 and has signed a five-year contract.
SSA vice-president (swimming) Joscelin Yeo told The New Paper that the 45-year-old Spaniard will be tasked to ensure the nation's swimmers continue their dominance at next year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games on home soil, as well as to make a splash at next year's World Championships and the 2016 and 2020 editions of the Olympics.
Said Yeo: "Sergio's immediate plan is to get to know the people on the ground and prepare the team for the SEA Games, followed by the World Championships.
"The ultimate goal is to establish Singapore swimming as one of the top in the world over the next five years.
"It does not mean we will be competing against countries like the USA, Australia, Japan and China as a team, simply because of the size of the population.
"But why can't we be like Hungary and get to the Olympic Games with five to eight swimmers with chances to win medals?"
Lopez has served for the past seven years as head coach and aquatics director at The Bolles School. He was also part of the US senior national coaching team from 2012 to 2014 and the US junior national coaching team from 2009 to 2014.
He was also the Olympic coach for Singapore in 2012 and head coach for Netherland Antilles in 2008.
Lopez has produced the likes of 2011 World Junior Championships backstroke medallist Ryan Murphy and women's 200m individual medley world-record holder Ariana Kukors.
It was at Bolles where he trained Schooling for the last four years.
Sprint star Schooling won the 100m butterfly silver at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July and followed it up with the gold medal in the event at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea two months later.
He is ranked among the top 10 in the world in the 100m fly.
Lopez also coached Tao Li for five months in the lead-up to the Asian Games, and Singapore's top female swimmer went on to bag a silver and a bronze medal in the 50m and 100m butterfly events, respectively.
In a statement issued by the SSA yesterday, Lopez said: "I want to thank the SSA and the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) for believing in me and giving me this chance to lead Singapore Swimming.
"It is a privilege to have been chosen to lead Singapore Swimming to greater heights and to work alongside the Singaporean coaches and help them develop swimming to the highest levels possible.
"The ultimate goal is to establish Singapore swimming as one of the top in the world over the next five years. I know that it is not an easy task, but I believe that with the talent of swimmers, coaches and the resources that the SSA and SSI have in place, the dream is attainable.
"This is a team effort and I believe that if we all work for the good of Singapore, then the sky is the limit."
Lopez represented Spain from 1984 to 1996. He won a bronze medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games and came in fourth in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, both in the 200m breaststroke event.
In addition to his role as head coach, Lopez will also be appointed as an adviser coach at the coaching academy of the SSI.
He will help in developing a cadre of elite level coaches.
Troy Engle, SSI director of coach development, said: "Sergio has a proven track record of not only developing athletes but also inspiring and lifting the standard of coaches he has worked with.
"And we at SSI intend to capitalise on his passion and expertise to assist in developing a vibrant community of coaches across the sports in Singapore.
This article was first published on Nov 19, 2014.
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