SINGAPORE: The Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) announced the appointment of Gary Tan as new national head coach on Thursday (Dec 23).
Tan, who will also remain as acting head coach of the National Training Centre (NTC) until a replacement is found, takes over from Stephan Widmer with immediate effect.
His immediate task will be to "oversee the implementation of SSA’s long-term plans for swimming high performance following a comprehensive review after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games", SSA said in a news release.
He is also tasked to navigate challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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.
"SSA is delighted to have appointed Gary as our new national head coach as we believe that Gary 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”.
Lee added that he hopes the appointment would inspire more local coaches to take up coaching as a profession and follow his pathway to be a world-class high-performance coach in Singapore.
Tan, who has been the NTC head coach since 2016, was an "integral" part of the coaching staff where Singapore’s swimmers achieved their best away SEA Games results at the 2017 and 2019 SEA Games, said SSA.
They finished with 19 golds in Malaysia, and two years later bagged 23 golds in the Philippines.
He was also on the coaching team when Singapore achieved their best Asian Games results in Indonesia in 2018. The swimmers returned with two golds, one silver and three bronzes to finish third in the standings, behind Japan and China. He was crowned Coach of the Year at the Singapore Sports Awards that year.
"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, a former national swimmer.
"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."
Tan said that he would reach out to SSA's affiliates to address issues and provide adequate help to clubs and swim school businesses in light of the struggles they face during this period.