Widmer to take on top job with Singapore Swimming
One of Swimming Australia’s most experienced coaches Stephan Widmer will sadly be leaving the organisation to take on an exciting new position as Head Coach at Singapore Swimming.
Widmer, who was born in Switzerland and swam internationally for ten years, has more than 24 years’ experience in coaching, and has coached some of the best athletes in Australia and the world.
After arriving in Australia as a backpacker in 1997 chasing knowledge from coaches all over the world, Widmer had soon worked his way up the ranks at the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) and onto his first national team in 2003.
His list of protégées and their achievements while with him are outstanding and include the likes of:
- Libby Trickett: Olympic Champion & World Champion, World Record Holder
- Leisel Jones: World Champion, World Record Holder
- Jessicah Schipper: World Champion, World Record Holder
- Kylie Palmer: Silver medal at World Championships
- Christian Sprenger: Bronze at World Championships, World Record Holder
- Jade Edmistone: Silver at World SC Championships
While Widmer has had great success through his athletes, he also has a convincing list of personal achievements to his name, including an Order of Australia (OAM) for service to swimming as a coach, received in 2010, Swimming Australia Coach of the Year Awards in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and he was inducted into the Swimming Queensland Hall of Fame in 2012.
His new job will see him based at the OCBC Aquatic Centre in Singapore and Widmer said he is excited for the new challenge.
“It is an extremely exciting move and I am looking forward to the journey ahead,” Widmer said.
“Singapore is geographically much smaller which will be a huge benefit for me and my new team in terms of ease of access to squads and ability to get around,” Widmer said.
“Singapore has some outstanding swimming & coaching talent, I know I will be able to add essential World class expertise and experience.
“I feel that my professional experiences from the past have prepared me for this National Head Coach position in Singapore, for example;
“Switzerland had similar challenges with a high importance on education and compulsory army service for male athletes;
“The QAS allowed me to clearly understand what it takes to create and maintain World class performance and Swimming Queensland and Swimming Australia gave me the opportunity to strengthen my leadership qualities through mentoring and educating coaches and other members of the high performance unit.
After just being announced as part of the Swimming Australia Coaching Leadership Team (CLT) Swimming Australia Executive Manager – High Performance Wayne Lomas said Stephan was a passionate pool deck coach and helped tremendously with coach and high performance development in Australia.
“Stephan demonstrated an incredible aptitude for coach development. He worked hard with his coach peers to instil the same attention to detail on planning, periodisation and long term development as he himself displayed during his highly successful pool deck career.
“Our great loss is, of course, Singapore’s great gain. Stephan is an exceptional coach and wonderful coach leader. The swimming community of Singapore will benefit greatly from his passion, experience and expertise.”
And Widmer said coach development will be a main focus for him in his new role.
“My aim will be to carry on some of the work I’ve done in Australia with coach development and developing high performance areas because I think this will make a massive difference and be a real investment for the sports future,” Widmer said.
“This will come from continuous coach education and education that is practical and integrated into events. My goal is to increase knowledge sharing and ultimately lift the standard of swimming and coaching.”
“Singapore won their first Olympic gold medal in swimming with Joseph Schooling in Rio so they have momentum and the dynamic is really positive at the moment.”
“I hope I can help to lift the standard of the daily performance environment and transfer some of my knowledge from Australia to help Singapore achieve world class standards.
Swimming Australia Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren said Stephan is a world class coach.
“Stephan has shown his world class quality as coach and head coach of Queensland and his knowledge, experience and ongoing search for innovation in the sport will be missed,” Verhaeren said.
“But from my own experience I do understand why he wants to experience a different culture and working in a different system, I hope at some stage he will return to Australia with even more knowledge and experience.
Widmer says he owes a lot to the organisations that he has been a part of, particularly the QAS and Swimming Australia (SAL).
“That organisation (the QAS) has allowed me to challenge myself, they have been there from the start and I am very thankful for their support,” Widmer said.
“Then SAL and the national coaches they have given me so many opportunities like national event camps, creative learning opportunities and the chance to travel with so many talented coaches.”
“I wouldn’t be the coach I am today without the people I met while in Australia and the coaching environment in which they operate,” Widmer said.
“Everyone that I got the chance to work with has been very open, caring and supportive.
“They challenge each other in a very healthy and positive way and have been great mentors and I am extremely grateful for their guidance.”
Stephan will finish up with Swimming Australia on June 16 and we wish him and his wife Leanne, and children Luca and Eli all the best for the exciting journey ahead.
Swimming Australia will take time to consider all relevant options for a replacement State Head Coach for Queensland, and won’t be taking any action until late August following both the senior and junior World Championship meets.