On 17 October, the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) announced that former national coach Stephan Widmer’s employment contract with the body had been terminated.
Now, just about two months after, the SSA has announced that after “conducting a comprehensive search”, it has hired National Training Centre (NTC) Head Coach Gary Tan as Singapore’s National Swimming Head Coach.
The 39-year-old will take over the position left vacant with immediate effect.
“We were looking for a candidate that has the technical competence, track record and understanding of Singapore’s competitive swimming eco-system,” said SSA President Lee Kok Choy.
“Gary impressed us the most and displayed that he has gained the expertise after having come under the tutelage of Sergio Lopez and Stephan Widmer in the last seven years.”
The SSA added that Tan, a former national swimmer, “is the best fit amongst all the candidates to influence the NTC and affiliate clubs, to mentor local coaches, to continue to bring forth world class expertise through his connections with leading experts in the world, to adapt and relate to the local swimming ecosystem of athletes, coaches, and clubs, and have a strong burning desire to make Singapore a world class aquatic nation.”
Tan’s immediate task as National Head Coach will be to oversee the implementation of the SSA’s long-term plans for swimming high performance following a comprehensive review after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and to navigate challenges surrounding COVID-19, said the SSA.
Tan has been the NTC Head Coach since 2016 and was an integral part of the coaching staff where Singapore’s swimmers achieved their best away SEA Games results at the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia with 19 Golds, and again at the 2019 SEA Games in Philippines with 23 Golds.
He was also on the coaching team when Singapore achieved their best Asian Games results in 2018 when the swimmers returned from Indonesia with 2 Golds, 1 Silver and 3 Bronzes, and saw Singapore finish third in the standings behind Japan and China.
He was named as the Coach of the Year at the Singapore Sports Awards 2018.
“Having represented the nation as an athlete, a club coach and a NTC coach, I am living my dream to be able to lead the development of swimming in my home country,” said Tan.
“I am proud to be tasked with the role of continuing the legacy of Singapore’s success in swimming at the major competitions.
“There will be many challenges ahead but together with my team, I am ready to face them and do my best for Singapore,” he said.
He added that he wants to develop and support Singapore’s swimmers to achieve “sustained podium success at Asian, Olympic and World Championships, through good and sustainable investment in the development of our clubs, athletes and coaches” and that he will “reach out to all our affiliates to address their issues and provide adequate help.”
“The success of clubs and swim schools are crucial as they are the backbone of our system and provide the talent pipeline for the national team,” said Tan.
“We will need to rebuild a core group of swimmers through a system-based approach in both the clubs and the NTC, giving our swimmers access to an elite training environment daily.”