Saturday, June 23, 2007

Daughter for Pieter van den Hoogenband

VDH's daughter was born today! Pieter and his wife Minouche named their little girl Daphne. Both mother and child are doing well.

"This is the best day of my life!", a proud father claims.

Pieter didn't join his team mates on training camp in Beijing this month as his first child was due this month as well.

Congratulations to Pieter and his wife Minouche from all of us!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

VDH: "I will miss competing with Thorpe..."

Pieter van den Hoogenband and Ian Thorpe competed each other in some breathtaking clashes at major tournaments these past years. VDH says he will really miss these clashes.

"It will be weird not to compete with him any more", the Dutch Olympic Champion commented on his rival's retirement. As VDH also had to fight his way back to the top after his hernia operation last year, he understands Ian's decision.

"I understand it's hard to find the right motivation when things aren't going your way for a while. I've been through that myself”.

New clashes with Thorpe were a great motivating factor for VDH to work even harder at this comeback. "I looked forward to competing with him again. It will be really weird not having that 'big black fish' swimming in the lane next to mine", VDH referred to his rival's black swimming suit.

"Because of Thorpe I always had to push my own limits. I really wanted to compete with him next year at the World Championships in Melbourne. But let's not be too dramatic about this. He's healthy and alive. It's just a shame he won't be around any more."

Thorpe: Retirement Speech

Ian Thorpe mentions at the very end of his retirement speech how much he had enjoyed competing with Pieter van den Hoogenband.

Edited highlights of Ian Thorpe's retirement speech and selected answers to questions from reporters:

"You've seen my swimming career very publicly since I was 15. I was catapulted into the international limelight as a kid and my swimming career started a long time before that. You guys didn't see it, but I saw it. And it's continued since that, and I'm certain everyone here's seen it."

"I've reached all of the dizzying heights of this sport, and had a tremendous amount of success that I never thought would happen for myself, and for all of that I'm extremely appreciative."

"I've also had some setbacks. I've been sick, I've had injuries, all those things I've had to work through."

"Basically the last bout of them sent me to LA, where I could actually focus on what I was doing with fewer distractions than what I have here."

"And it was a great thing. I don't know if I've been as fit as I was when I was in LA. I had physical and athletic prowess that I hadn't seen before, and that was thanks to Milton Nelms and his techniques and methods while I was in LA, which I'm very, very grateful for."

"One other thing happened in LA. As I got fit, physically fit, my mind also got fit. I started asking a lot of questions. I started to look at myself, not just as a swimmer, but as a person."

"Another way of looking at it is you can swim lap after lap, staring at a black line, and all of a sudden you look up and see what's around."

"That's what it feels like to me. (I) asked more questions, asked what the relevance of swimming was for me. I know it was different to what it was two years ago, it's different to what it was five years ago, it's different to what it was 10 years ago, and it most definitely is very different to what it was 15 years ago."

"So that begged another question. What would my life be like without swimming? It's a very, very dark question for me because swimming's provided a safety blanket. It's been a security net for me where if I'm not certain about developing other sides of my life, I just fall straight back into swimming."

"What it's meant is I haven't balanced out my life as well as I should. So with this question being asked, I realised that I had to prioritise other things and had to let swimming take a bit of a back seat at this stage. It was a very important thing, it was a very difficult decision to make because swimming has provided that security and I was going out after my fears."

"With that question the first reaction was fear. But what also happened was I was excited. I was excited about the prospect of other things being in my life."

"So I'm looking at a next phase, and that next phase means that I am realigning what's the most important thing for me to do. And those important things, I don't want to rank or list them in any particular order, but swimming falls somewhere short. It's not at the top of the list, which has never happened before."

"In another way of shortening this ... as of 2.53 Sunday afternoon I decided I wouldn't be swimming at the world championships."

"I also made another very difficult decision that day, that I'm actually going to discontinue my professional swimming career."

"It was a tough decision, but one that I'm very pleased that I've made, and I've been working towards this decision for quite some time. I'm a 24-year-old, and only just 24 as well. I'm young enough to still see the new challenges, and be able to accept them within my life. But I'm also old enough now to realise all of those accomplishments that have got me to this point."

"I also know there's a lot of people out there that are going to want me to still swim. I really hope that I wanted to swim half as much as other people wanted me to. I also realise that it would be dishonest to myself, dishonest for everyone else, if I was to continue on that basis, because it wouldn't be for me, it would be doing it for someone else. It wouldn't be fulfilling my own dreams, it would be fulfilling the dreams that other people have for me."

"Another wonderful thing has happened. I've been able to take more pride in my accomplishments. At the time I was moving from one to the next, and didn't have a chance to reflect back on them. Now I do, and I am as proud as I've ever been, and I am more proud of all those achievements now that I've stepped away from the sport and not prioritising it."

"I also am very proud of this decision that I've made today. It's a decision that has been difficult. It would have been easier for me to follow the status quo, but I realise that there are things in my life that are more important to me, and I have to pursue them now. I have to pursue those because they are the things that are going to make me a better person, and allow me to continue to contribute to this country and to what I want to do in the future."

"I'm investigating doing a television program with Foxtel at the moment, which I'm really looking forward to. And I'm going to be doing something good. I don't know what it is yet, and I'm not 100 per cent certain, but it's going to be good."

"This is a story that a lot of people want to hear. I realise the interest and I can see the interest right now. So I ask that when a little child asks their parents tonight 'Why is Thorpie not swimming anymore?', that they have the right information, they have the information from my mouth, and are able to give the right answer. That's all I ask for."

"I have a lot of thank-yous. I'd like to thank everyone in this country. I'd like to thank everyone for the support that they've given me. It's been unwavering, it's been incredible. I don't know where it's come from, but it's just a wonderful thing to know you have so many people care for you and love to see me do what I do. I know that I inspire people but I've been inspired by those same people that get that inspiration from me. I'm very grateful for that, I'm very grateful for it throughout my career, and probably for the last time in my swimming career, I want to say thank-you for that support."

"It's a thing that we should be celebrating, that's how I feel about this. I've had a great career. It isn't the best time for me to be walking away from the sport, but it's my time."

"I don't see myself competing again. I don't think it will happen. I won't rule it out, I never rule anything out, but it won't happen. Everyone will remember what I did in the pool, but this is one of my proudest moments in being able to stand up here and do this today. I've been working through this actually for a few weeks ... and I've been seeing someone, but I'm not allowed to say their name. They've been incredible, absolutely incredible."

"I want to make sure if there's any athletes that are considering walking away from their sport I want them to get in contact with me, so I can put them over to this person. I've been seeing this person for the last three weeks. I think I would have had a good World Championships, it wouldn't have been great."

"If I stood in from of a mirror, it looked right for me from the outside. Physically I had it there, I could do it, I was physically in shape. Inside I had nothing, it wasn't there anymore.
"My best swimming performance was the 200m freestyle I did before the Olympic Games. I did a short course in Berlin, (I) had been accused of taking drugs and what not from the German head coach. It was a high pressure situation, it was my lead up to the Olympics, and with all of that on me it was a matter of me working out 'how am I going to get through this? Throw something at me, how am I going to respond to it?' And I came up trumps, it was the best swim that I'd done, and it's definitely the best performance that I had in a pool."

"My favourite (Olympic) moment was the 4x100m freestyle relay in Sydney, but the best performance that I had was my freestyle in Athens, because of the state I was in before I swum it. I was really struggling and I was able to lift myself to get there."

"My greatest opponent - I think it's been myself. And especially now, I realise it more and more. I've been the biggest opponent to myself, and it's been hard to overcome."

"I've enjoyed racing against who I would probably consider my two biggest rivals - both Grant Hackett and Pieter van den Hoogenband."

VDH's first comment on Thorpe's retirement

As VDH and 'Thorpedo' were each other's arch rivals - only in the water though, on land they are good friends - the Dutch press desperately wanted a quote from Pieter van den Hoogenband on Ian Thorpe's early retirement.

VDH: "It will be very strange not having that 'black fish' swimming in the lane next to mine..."

Of course VDH gave Thorpe this nickname, due to the fact that Ian always swam in this all black swimming suit.

Check back for more comments from Pieter's coach Jacco Verhaeren and his take on Ian's retirement.

We will sure miss those exciting clashes in the water between 'The Flying Dutchman' and 'Thorpedo'!

Ian Thorpe announces retirement

Five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe has stunned the world of swimming by retiring at the age of 24.

The Australian won three gold medals at the 2000 Games in Sydney and added two titles in Athens four years later. But he has barely competed since then because of injury and fatigue, and told a news conference in Sydney he had been weighing up his future for some time.

"I've had a great career. It isn't the best time to be walking away from the sport but it's my time," he said. "I don't think I should be retiring, I think I'm far too young to retire, but it's a thing that we should be celebrating. I've had a great career. It's a decision that has been difficult. I realise that there's things in my life that are more important for me. I've reached all the dizzying heights of this sport. I've had a tremendous amount of success and I've also had setbacks. None of my goals included breaking any more world records. I knew how to do it, but it wasn't as inspiring as it should have been."

Born in Sydney, Thorpe first swam for his country at the age of 14 and set the first of his 13 world records a year later. In addition to his Olympic success, he went on to claim 11 world titles and 10 Commonwealth Games gold medals, six of which he gained in Manchester in 2002.
But he missed the 2005 World Championships after deciding to take a year off and pulled out of the Commonwealth Games this year because of glandular fever.

The Australian sporting icon moved to Los Angeles this year and rumours were rife that he was losing motivation. He was expected to announce his withdrawal from next month's national trials, ruling him out of next year's World Championships in Melbourne. However, speculation that he was thinking of going much further than that was confirmed to a packed news conference. There are suggestions that he might now look into a career in television or film.

"Swimming has been a security blanket but I haven't balanced out my life. I realised I had to prioritise other things and let swimming take a backseat," Thorpe added. "I'm looking at the next phase and that means I'm realigning what the most important thing is for me to do.
"Swimming is not at the top of the list, which has not happened before."

Source: BBC

Monday, November 20, 2006

VDH's arch rival Ian Thorpe might announce retirement

A news conference in Sydney on Tuesday was initially expected to confirm the 24-year-old Australian's withdrawal from next March's World Championships. But reports now suggest he may use it to bring the curtain down on his glittering career in the pool.

Thorpe, who has been hampered by illness and injury, has not competed at a major meet since the 2004 Olympics. His long lay-off has affected his training in the build-up to next month's Australian national trials in Brisbane next month. If he misses those he will be ineligible for the 2007 Melbourne World Championships.

"He's had a long road back. It's been tougher than we thought, so we'll get together in the next 48 hours to make a decision," said Thorpe's coach Milt Nelms.

Double world record-holder Thorpe has won five Olympic gold medals and 10 World Championship gold medals. He has already said his long-term goal is to win another gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he would become the first male swimmer to win gold at three Olympics. Thorpe recently relocated to Los Angeles and there have been doubts about whether he is still fully motivated. He missed the 2005 World Championships after deciding to take a year off and pulled out of the Commonwealth Games this year because of glandular fever.

Australia head coach Alan Thompson says Thorpe needs to decide soon what his future holds. "I think it is a distraction for Ian - he needs to know where he is going to go for the rest of his life and have a plan in place," he said.

Thorpe's team-mate Grant Hackett, the world and Olympic 1,500m champion, said he would be surprised if Thorpe quit. "Any athlete who has had an extended break has periods where there is a dip in motivation and others where they are highly aroused to compete," he said. "If there was talk of retiring, and he said it tomorrow, I'd find it hard to comprehend. I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago and he sounded very motivated towards Beijing. But he's the only one who can answer those questions. I'm fairly intrigued and interested to see what he's going to announce, just like everybody else."

Source: BBC

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

VDH image as logo for European Championships 2008

Pieter van den Hoogenband's image is used for the logo of the European Championships 2008, which will be held in VDH's home base in Eindhoven.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Column by Pieter van den Hoogenband

Pieter van den Hoogenband writes columns for Dutch newspaper AD on an irregular basis. This is his latest column.

The swimming season only just finished and I’m struck with the flue. It seems as if my body knew the gala in Hamburg (Deutscher Ring Aquatics) was my last competition of the season.

When Rafael van der Vaart (football player) transferred from Ajax to Hamburger SV a year ago, I really didn’t understand that. “If you’re that young and talented, you don’t leave Ajax for a football club in such a dull city”, was my initial reaction. But now I understand his decision. Hamburg is much more fun and wealthier than I thought and is very sport minded. I went to Hamburg in 1993 for the first time. I was invited by the Olympic base in Hamburg for some tests.

As what used to be quite common in the former DDR, they analyzed my swimming capabilities. They gave me a 10 (out of 10). Before that, they had only given Franziska van Almsick the same result. Naturally, I was thrilled with the outcome. The pool where I was tested was situated in a rundown part of town. The outside of the pool was covered in grafitti. It all seemed quite depressing to me. But to be honest with you, I hadn’t made any effort to explore Hamburg at the time. I was there for the tests, so I didn’t see anything besides the pool and my hotel.

This time I had a much better time in Hamburg. It appears to be one of the wealthiest German cities and it shows. They built a beautiful 6-lane pool, especially for this event, in a tennis stadium. In the dressing room I even thought to myself: “Am I going to play tennis or swim?” The organization did everything possible to make this event a success. All 5000-6000 spectators on Saturday and Sunday got their money’s worth.

Because I’m the only reigning Olympic Champion in Europe, the organizing committee paid me a visit last year. They wanted to persuade me to join the event. They also asked me advice about the most suitable date for the event and how they could make the program as appealing as possible.

I advised them to host the event the weekend following the European Championships and pointed out that the shorter distances would be most appealing. The organization prioritized the sport. With Roland Schoeman breaking a world record, this was surely a great success.

There was also a waterpolo demonstration with the boxing Klitsjko brothers and a swimm off with German celebrities as tennis player Michael Stich. It was a remarkable ending of the season. I’m glad the flue struck me only on the Monday after the event.

Monday, August 14, 2006

VDH wins at Deutscher Ring Aquatics 2006

Day two of the Deutscher Ring Aquatics in Hamburg, Germany, saw three victories of Dutch swimmers.

First of all, Pieter van den Hoogenband won, as expected, the 200m freestyle event. Training partner Markus Rogan set the pace for VDH, who finished it off in 1:43:52.

Marleen Veldhuis beat Britta Steffen at the 50m in 0:24:09 and Inge Dekker (brand new European Champion at 100m butterfly) won her race in 0:57:80 at her preferred event.

Jacco Verhaeren (see photo), who is VDH's coach (and since this year technical director of the national swimming association, supervising the top swimming centres in Eindhoven and Amsterdam), believes that the initiative to create a new international swimming competition is a positive outlook for the sport.

"This is good promotion for swimming. The show elements they put in made it very entertaining for the audience. We really need this to promote the sport and attract more sponsors. I really think this competition has a future. Eventhough it wasn't easy for the swimmers to recharge so soon after the European Championships, they still wanted to perform well here. The prize money was also a very good incentive." (Each winner received $1,500).

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Deutscher Ring Aquatics 2006 - results

Despite announcements from Dutch and German television, nothing was broadcasted last night, except for a short clip of Britta Steffen on ZDF (German TV).

Pieter van den Hoogenband didn't break any records or won any race. This was expected, considering his struggle to get back in shape on the 100m and 50m and the fact that his turning points are still not his strong suit.

Roland Schoeman is more of a short track specialist and he proved his great form on Saturday. He's the first swimmer this weekend to break a world record (short track record, which is always faster than long track thanks to more turning points and under water techniques). He is the first man to break the 21 second barrier on the 50m freestyle: 0:20:98!

And this was only in the semifinals... In the finals he won the race in 0:21:28, Mark Foster came in second and Johan Kenkhuis (former relay team mate of VDH) finished third in 0:21:89. Pieter van den Hoogenband finished in 0:22:27.

So far the 21 seconds barrier had only been broken in split times at relay races, which Johan Kenkhuis and Pieter van den Hoogenband both managed to do in the past.

Schoeman was also superior at the 100m event: 0:46:70 (world best time for this year, no world record). Pieter van den Hoogenband finished in third place in 0:48:50.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Deutscher Ring Aquatics 2006 with VDH live on German and Dutch television

This weekend VDH will compete with other top swimmers in a 25m pool in Hamburg to try and break world records.

Any swimmer who succeeds, will receive a 15.000 euro bonus and a brand new Chevrolet Captiva.

The organization of Deutscher Ring Aquatics 2006 built a temporary swimming pool in a tennis stadium (see photo) in less than 48 hours. Expenses: 200.000 euro.

Will Pieter van den Hoogenband break any records this weekend? His coach Jacco Verhaeren doubts it. VDH's starts and turning points are not perfect yet and he never was a typical short track swimmer. It will be particularly interesting to watch VDH taking on Roland Schoeman once again!

You can watch it on German television: on Saturday in the sports programme "Das aktuelle Sportstudio" on ZDF (22:30-23:45) and on Sunday ZDF Sportreportage
(17:10-18:00). The Dutch NOS Studiosport will also feature the races among the other sports (Saturday 22:05-23:05 and possibly Sunday 20:30-21:35).


Johan Kenkhuis (NED)
Nick Driebergen (NED)
Lennart Stekelenburg (NED)
Roland Schoeman (RSA)
Ryk Neethling (RSA)
Lyndon Ferns (RSA)
Michael Klim (AUS)
Markus Rogan (AUT)
Thomas Rupprath (GER)
Helge Meeuw (GER)
Paul Biedermann (GER)
Johannes Neumann (GER)
Steffen Deibler (GER)
Johannes Dietrich (GER)
Steffen Driesen (GER)
Steve Theloke (GER)
Jens Thiele (GER)
Sergiy Breus (UKR)
Oleg Lisogor (UKR)
Andrey Serdinov (UKR)
Mark Foster (GBR)
Darren Mew (GBR)
Matthew Clay (GBR)
Laszlo Cseh (HUN)
Tamas Kerekjarto (HUN)
Alexander Dale Oen (NOR)
Peter Mankoc (SLO)
Lars Froelander (SWE)
Vladislav Polyakov (KAZ)
Yevgeniy Ryzhkov (KAZ)
Roman Sludnov (RUS)
Arkady Vyatchanin (RUS)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Grant Hackett not writing VDH's arch rival Ian Thorpe off

Grant Hackett believes that if Ian Thorpe was any other swimmer he would have no chance of winning Olympic gold in Beijing. The Australia captain today threw his support behind the under-siege five-time Olympic gold medallist, saying Thorpe's freestyle dominance meant he could still come back and win international races.

Thorpe has copped a recent barrage of criticism with claims he had gained weight and was not training after relocating to Los Angeles. But Hackett said Thorpe still had time on his side and could prove all his critics wrong by coming back to win international gold.

"If Ian says he can swim fast then Ian can swim fast. Has Ian ever really let us down in the past? Never. His track record proves that when Ian says he is going to swim fast he has always got up and performed and that's over a long period, over a decade. From talking to Ian directly he wants to be part of it. If the guy says he is going to the (2007 Melbourne) world championships and going to the trials to compete fast then I have no doubt he will. It shows the attitude of a champion if he is able to get back up after this."

Hackett further commented: "The break would have done Ian well but it is starting to stretch too long now. He has still got plenty of time to Beijing as long as he doesn't have any more illness or broken hands. His times are so far ahead in those events he competes in that he probably hasn't given away too much time. If he was neck and neck in terms of the last time he raced them then I would start to be a bit concerned. He has such a gap when at his best that potentially he does still have time to get up and perform really well. It is just a matter of it all going smoothly."

Hackett (shoulder reconstruction) and Thorpe will both return to long course racing at Australia's world championship trials in Brisbane starting December 3.

7 Million tickets on sale for Beijing Olympics

Just in case you're considering supporting Van den Hoogenband live at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing...

The organizing committee of the Olympics has announced today that as from mid 2007 there will be 7 million tickets on sale at very low prices.

"We intend to keep the prices low to give the Chinese people an opportunity to attend the Games," says chairman of the committee, Liu Qi. "Only the tickets for the opening and closing ceremony will be more expensive."

VDH laughs at Magnini's golden crown

BUDAPEST – At the mixed zone Pieter van den Hoogenband glanced at his competitor at the 100m freestyle, Filippo Magnini. The Italian show off wore the Italian flag around his shoulders and a fake golden crown on his head. With his – also – golden swimming cap (and tattooed crown on his arm) he had just beaten VDH in the 100m finals in 48:79 seconds, thus prolonging his title of 2004. Filippo Magnini earned the nick name “Superpipo”, which actually in Dutch translates as “Super clown". Van den Hoogenband, who finished in third place with 48:94 seconds smiled:
“I only wear a crown like that at the carnival!”

VDH said he would use this image of Magnini to motivate himself to work harder than ever on his 100m. After his hernia operation last year he hasn’t been back to his old form at this event, unlike the 200m, which he won with conviction in Budapest.

"At that event I’m back at the world top. The 100m is, however, a combination of technique and explosive power. I need more time for that. At the Olympics of Atlanta in 1996 I finished in 49:13 seconds (4th place). It took me three years to improve that time. After that, the ball got rolling and I managed to go much faster. But it proves that the 100m is a much harder event than the 200m."

VDH considers his gold medal at the 200m and the bronze medal at the 100m as two worthy prizes at his first international competition after the Olympics in Athens and as a few major steps forward after his operation.

"I’m back on the stage again. The gold is fantastic, the bronze is my motivation to do better. At the 100m I am the two-fold Olympic Champion and world record holder. My goal is to re-claim my ‘throne’ as soon as possible."

If he will reach that goal in the next two years, VDH is still not sure.

"Magnini will not rest on his laurels. The competition will keep developing themselves. We’ll have to wait and see."

The two races in Budapest did offer Van den Hoogenband and his coach Jacco Verhaeren a great opportunity to analyse where they stand.

"We analyzed both races extensively. In certain aspects of the race I’m still doing strange things. The first three or four hits in the water when I emerge were not fierce enough, for instance. I was looking for the right pace more than anything. You can’t do that at the 100m. I also need to work on my turning points to launch myself after each lap. I was merely tapping and turning. Fortunately, my start, technique, breathing, frequency and length were OK."

But what’s more, Van den Hoogenband got through his races without any pain.

"When you’re healthy, you don’t realize that. Now I’m just happy to be able to put on my socks without feeling any pain. I walked around with a huge smile on my face. When I had my back problems, I had to take anti-inflammatories just to be able to assume the starting position. I only felt good in the water, because that wouldn’t hurt my back. Now I’m completely fit and that just feels so damn’ good!"

4x200m relay team might miss out on Olympics in Beijing

Not qualifying for the finals at the European Championships in Budapest may prove to be quite a disaster after all.

The 4x200m limit for the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne is 7:17:55. Based on the results at the WC the starting list of the Beijing Olympics will be determined. Only a limited number of national teams will be allowed to start at the Olympics.

The Dutch 4x200m relay team didn’t reach the finals without Van den Hoogenband at the European Championships and only finished in 7:24:66. This is not enough to qualify for the World Championships.

The Olympic starting list will be made up as follows: the 10 best countries at the World Championships prior to the Olympics (Melbourne 2007), plus the 6 fastest teams ‘on paper’.

All is not lost yet, but the Dutch know now what they need to do!

VDH's new training facilities

(video and slide shows at end of article)

Michael Klim raised an eyebrow or two when he was invited to the old Tongelreep pool in Eindhoven for the Dutch Open last year. The audience was seated on improvised bleeches right on the edge of the pool and the building seemed quite old. This was where his friend Pieter van den Hoogenband and Jacco Verhaeren laid the foundation of VDH's successes? Coming from Australia, where top swimmers have access to the best facilities, he was quite stunned. Although he had heard stories of other champions before who started out in run down pools or not even having access to a 50m pool, but had to train in a 25m one instead.

VDH didn't really care about what his beloved pool looked like. If he needed a change of scenery and some high-tech facilities, his coach Jacco Verhaeren would set up a training camp for the team. The only downside to it was the recreational function of the Tongelreep. After all, they had to make a buck or two to keep the place going. Not being able to work on the hours they needed, or extend a training session to try out some things, was becoming a problem. They could also do with the underwater cameras and other gadgets VDH's competition abroad had access to.

But help was on its way! The Tongelreep would be largely extended. The new facilities would also house a separate traning pool for the professional team of Van den Hoogenband (NZE).

And here they are... VDH's new training facilities! He and his team have been training there in the past months and the benefits are obvious. Eventhough the entire complex will not be fully completed until September 8th and the official opening is scheduled for early 2007, the training pool is up and running.

The new swim stadium will be one of the most advanced, if not the most advanced, facilities of Europe. They will be capable of hosting large events, such as the European Championships in 2008, with a 10-lane 50m pool, an 8-lane 25m diving pool and 3.000 seats for spectators. VDH's training pool is a 4-lane 25m pool which is equipped with a Vision training system, operating 13 cameras for extensive analyses. This is unique in Europe. The complex also houses several recreational facilities and outdoor pools.

Here's a promotional video which shows clips of VDH and the new swim stadium. Be patient... the first half of the video has some shots of VDH (but focusses on sports facilities in Eindhoven) and as from approx. the second half of the video you will get a nice impression of the complex.


Here are some actual photos of Pieter's training pool, arranged in two slide shows.

CLICK HERE FOR SLIDE SHOW 1 - Photos of VDH's training pool.

CLICK HERE FOR SLIDE SHOW 2 - Photos of the small gym, adjacent to the pool. This is where Pieter pumps iron!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

VDH will compete with international top at prestigious Deutscher Ring Aquatics 2006

On 12 and 13 August the international swimming top will compete each other in an attempt to break world records at their preferred events. The Netherlands will be represented by Pieter van den Hoogenband, Marleen Veldhuis and Inge Dekker. VDH’s and Inge Dekker’s coach Jacco Verhaeren will join them in Hamburg. The races will be held in a 25m pool. Per race only 4 swimmers will compete each other.

After the 50m semifinals at the European Championships this weekend, Van den Hoogenband commented that he already knew before the race that he wouldn’t stand a chance to reach the finals. However, he didn’t want to pull out of the semis.

“That would have been the easy way out, and I didn’t want to do that. I considered it to be an important test. It was a dreadful race, but I learned a lot from it. I know now I have my work cut out for me.”

In order to test himself even more, VDH will enter the lucrative competition in Hamburg to face the international top. The races in the 25-m pool will give him a chance to work on his turning points.

“If I can perform well at the 50m event, I will do better at the 100m. I’ve been a European champion at the 50m before and I won a bronze medal at this event at the Olympics in Sydney. I know I can do it, but it takes time for me to get that feeling back.”

Van den Hoogenband had counted on reaching the finals for the 4x200m relay (VDH didn’t join his team in the heats). But Olaf Wildeboer, Bas van Velthoven, Stefan Oosting and Mitja Zastrow only finished in 10th place in the heats.

“That was a downer”, says Van den Hoogenband. “My team and I worked so hard for this. We wanted to get really far. I even considered to join them in the heats, but I assumed they would be good enough to get through. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”


VDH doubts successful comeback Ian Thorpe

Pieter van den Hoogenband told reporters on Saturday that he doubts Ian Thorpe will be a serious threat to him at the Olympics of Beijing in 2008.

“Ian is having a hard time dealing with his stardom. He fled to Los Angeles to be able to train without any distractions. It’s still very difficult for him. I know I will be ready in Beijing to face Michael Phelps. It will be a memorable race, for sure.”

A front page story in the Sydney Morning Herald headlined "The good life catches up with Thorpedo". The story began: "He munches on pizza and hamburgers and slurps cola. He hasn't been training. And Ian Thorpe, the five-time Olympic champion is getting fat." It ran beside a photo showing Thorpe in a singlet carrying a cola drink (see the 'before-and-after" shots above).

Thorpe had relocated to Los Angeles temporarily to find motivation and would have probably quit the sport if he hadn't. Team Thorpe, including his Grand Slam International management and Sydney-based coach Tracey Menzies, declined to discuss the issue, insisting the star swimmer was "really happy over there" and they were not "concerned about the story at all".

Thorpe, despite being 195cm tall, has never had a chiselled physique. His ideal racing weight has varied around the 100kg mark, but now that he had focussed on sprint events and increased his gym workload it is to be expected that a 23-year-old man would gain some kilos.

Former swimming champion Kieren Perkins said Thorpe had plenty of time to get fit, it was whether he would get back to his best that remained the worrying question. "I don't think we need to worry about whether or not Ian can get fit," Perkins told the ABC. "We need to worry about whether or not when it comes down to that last 50-metre sprint against his competition, whether or not he's got enough underlying base there to allow his body to get him to the line."

Thorpe's progress has been stalled this year by a bout of glandular fever that ruled him out of the Commonwealth Games before a broken hand further delayed his training.

PHOTOS: VDH's gold 200m race at European Championships

Some stunning action pictures for you!

VIDEO: 200m gold race at European Championships 2006

A special treat for those who want to relive that special moment...

Here's a video which shows Pieter's gold 200m race at the European Championships in Budapest.

The video contains:

- VDH's race from start to finish (notice the red line which indicates the world record). VDH is swimming 3/4 of the race below the world record schedule! He only loses it in the final lap.

- Interview with Dutch television immediately after the race.

- Medal ceremony.

The video lasts approx. 3 minutes.


We've added two more buttons to the side bar: PHOTO ALBUM and VIDEOS. You will find new additions here regularly.

VDH misses 50m finals

Pieter van den Hoogenband didn't qualify for the 50m finals.

VDH finished in 14th place with 0:22:69. Johan Kenkhuis also misses the finals, as he finished in 10th place with 0:22:50 (Kenkhuis left in photo).

This was VDH's last race at the European Championships of 2006 in Budapest.

New website layout

We got tired of the old dull black layout of this website.

With Pieter van den Hoogenband's more than successful comeback we couldn't stay behind.

Some features will disappear from this website, others will be retained or added.

Stay tuned!

VDH comments on morning finals in Beijing

When asked about NBC’s request to the IOC to move the swimming finals to the morning at the Olympic Games in Beijing, Van den Hoogenband said:

“Do you see the big athletes of the 100 metre sprint, the Powells and Gatlins, running their final in the morning? Come on. Be serious. For one time, one tournament, they alternate the programme, because of American goals. Without knowing the opinion of the men to swim: we, us. This is worthless. For me especially. I am not a morning person. To be at my best at ten o’clock, shortly after breakfast, is impossible .”

He described the pure sport of swimming as “number one“, with the protagonists “even more important” than that. The IOC should consider those things above all else when they make their decision on NBC’s request - one that has brought widespread condemnantion - next month.

“We need rest to do our job in the best way we can. The finals in the evening: we lived with it, always. We got used at it. From boyhood till maturity. And now it has to change. For one time. They simply throw away the history of the sport. It is shameful and ridiculous. This is our biggest day in our career. For every sportman. And then they change the rules of the sport because of commercial reasons? I don’t get it.”

Friday, August 04, 2006

VDH will race at 50m event

Pieter van den Hoogenband will race at the 50m freestyle event at the European Championships.

It's his first 50m race since the Olympics in Athens two years ago.

His qualifying time is 22:70. VDH will compete in the 7th heat on Saturday morning.

At this point it's not certain yet if VDH will already start in the 4x200 relay heats, also on Saturday morning.

VDH qualified for the semifinals in 14th place with 22:75. Fellow Dutchman Johan Kenkhuis qualified in 7th place with 22:60. Kenkhuis was part of the very successful relay team at the Olympics in Sydney (4x200 and 4x100) and Athens (4x100) where VDH, Kenkhuis and their team picked up the bronze and silver medal respectively. They've had great successes at various European Championships together, including short track. Kenkhuis is now only focussing on the 50m event and has dropped the 100m entirely.

As expected, VDH didn't join the 4x200 relay team in the heats. The team didn't qualify for the finals. They finished in 7:24:66.


Pieter van den Hoogenband won his second medal at the European Championships today, at the 100m freestyle event. Bronze this time!

Beforehand VDH claimed to be satisfied with any medal, since he still misses his great form on the 100m event, due to his hernia operation last year. His training was mainly focussed on stamina, which eased him into his glorious comeback at the 200m event.

Nevertheless he swam a great race and finished in third place. His time: 48:94. VDH was very pleased with his time, as he had hoped for a time under 49 sec.

When seeing Magnini wearing a fake golden crown in the mixed zone, VDH told Dutch reporters that this little incident motivated him even more to beat Magnini in Beijing.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

VDH qualifies for finals 100m European Championships

Pieter van den Hoogenband qualified for the finals of the 100m freestyle event in 5th place.

VDH finished the race in 2nd place in his heat with 49:27.

His main competitor Filippo Magnini is top seed with 48:91. VDH's other competitor for the title, Simon Burnett, didn't reach the finals with a disappointing time of 49:56.

VDH is aiming for a 48:50 time in the finals.

PHOTOS: European Championships Budapest 2006

Pieter van den Hoogenband shows his gold medal (200M freestyle). His fourth European title at this event (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006) and his third consecutive title.

Pieter van den Hoogenband ready to take over from Stefan Oosting at the 4x100m relay.

The 4x100m relay team looks at the board in disbelief after the race: disqualified! Stefan Oosting left the blocks too fast... If they hadn't been disqualified, they would have finished in 5th place.

VDH and other top swimmers to petition over Beijing plan

Some of the world's leading swimmers are set to approach the International Olympic Committee to protest a proposal that would see the finals at the Beijing Games switched to the morning for US television.

American broadcaster NBC, which paid $3.55 billion for the exclusive US media rights to the 2000-2008 Games, has requested the switch to the morning in Beijing to coincide with prime-time viewing in the US

Swimming is predicted to be a major ratings winner in the US with Michael Phelps, who won eight medals at the 2004 Games, featuring prominantly.

"I don't think we should be pandering to the American dollar," Michael Klim, a six-times Olympic medallist, told the Australian newspaper on Thursday.

Swimmers taking part in the ongoing European Championships in Budapest were looking to organise a petition to express their concerns to the IOC, the Australian swimmer added.

Klim said he and training partner Dutch Olympic champion Pieter van den Hoogenband had discussed during training sessions in Cyprus what could be done to prevent the switch.

"We had extensive talks there," Klim said. "And the programme in Beijing is something we want to address. "We can still prepare to swim fast but it's about where the priorities lie. This is not in our best interests and sends a message that they don't care about the athletes and the sport," he added.


Swimming Australia said they opposed the proposal, which the IOC is set to rule on by September.

"(The petition) is probably a good thing because they will listen to them," Swimming Australia's Ian Hanson told Reuters on Thursday. "Our guys would race for gold at midnight but they are just not used to it. "It would require practice for the body clock and with races at 9.30 in the morning it would be a whole new ball game."

The sport's governing body Fina have approved evening finals for the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, while the finals of the Australian short course championships would be switched to the morning if the IOC ratified the proposal, Hanson said.

But Hanson predicted a commercial "disaster" in Australia and throughout Asia if the finals were staged in the morning. "If they were on at 9.30 in the morning we'd have one man and his dog watching. I know America are the big player and we are relatively small fish but it really would not be good for us."

VDH qualifies for semi-finals 100m freestyle

Pieter van den Hoogenband qualified as third best in this morning's heats for the 100m freestyle event at the European Championships in Budapest.

VDH finished his race in 49:27. Second best qualifier is Alain Bernard (France) with 49:26, top seed is Simon Burnett (Great Britain) with 49:24. Filippo Magnini, who was thought to be VDH's toughest competitor for this event, finished in 6th place with 49:46.

The semi-finals will be held in today's evening session.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


“The BOSS is back!”

Pieter van den Hoogenband won his 3rd consecutive European title at the 200m freestyle event. He is the first swimmer in history to win three consecutive European titles for the same event (2002, 2004, 2006).

VDH came very close to breaking the world record for a while, but finished in 1:45:65.

“This is very special”, commented Van den Hoogenband after his winning race, “I’ve been through hell this past year. It is such a fantastic feeling to be back in the game again. I had to start from scratch after my hernia operation. This proves I’m capable of fighting my way back.”

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Baby for VDH!

Pieter van den Hoogenband and his wife Minouche are expecting their first child in November of this year.

The happy couple got married last August and know each other from the swimming scene. Minouche was part of the national team some years ago, but had to quit her swimming career due to injury.

VDH is currently on training camp on Cyprus with the national team in preparation for the European Championships, which are held this summer in Budapest, Hungary. This will be VDH's first big tournament since the Olympics in Athens, 2004.

Monday, May 16, 2005

VDH’s coach invited to convention in Paris

Jacco Verhaeren has been invited to speak at a convention in Paris about his training methods. Verhaeren coached Pieter van den Hoogenband from young talented swimmer to become a world record holder and dual Olympic Champion at the 100m freestyle (Sydney and Athens) and Olympic Champion at the 200m freestyle (Sydney).

The four-day convention (17-21 May) is an initiative from the French swimming federation (FFN) and the national sports institute (Insep). Approximately 130 people will attend, including many international top coaches. They will speak about many aspects of their profession.

Next Wednesday, Verhaeren will present a clinic on swimming techniques. Later that day he will speak about season planning and periodization.

Source: ANP

Saturday, May 14, 2005

VDH resumes training

Pieter van den Hoogenband will resume his training on Tuesday, May 17th. The Olympic Champion underwent surgery on his back (hernia) on May 4th.

"Pieter will start slowly", says his trainer Jacco Verhaeren. "Tuesday he will enter the pool for the first time after his surgery. We'll take it easy and will see how it goes."

Van den Hoogenband hopes to recover quickly enough to compete at the World Championships in Montreal this July. He will decide whether or not he will actually start at the WC three to four weeks before the tournament. VDH will only go to Canada if he has a serious shot at the world title.

Source: Telegraaf

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Everything will be focussed on Beijing

What are three Olympic titles worth when you're on the operation table, waiting for your anaesthetics? "Absolutely nothing", says Pieter van den Hoogenband. "There’s nothing more important at that moment, except the wish for the operation to be successful."

What seemed to be a harmless muscle strain last March at the Open Flemish Championships in Antwerp, which could be a side effect of resuming his training after the Olympics, appeared to be a hernia between the fourth and fifth vertebra. The day after the diagnosis, Van den Hoogenband was operated on by neurosurgeon Wilco Peul. Another vertebra showed some wear as well, but it didn't need any surgery.

"Normally, a hernia is treated with rest and physical therapy, but my situation was too severe. The pain in my back and the radiation to my left foot were unbearable. During training in the pool it didn’t bother me too much. But as soon as I got home, I couldn’t move. Walking from my car to the front door was virtually impossible, because of the pain in my back and the pins-and-needles in my foot. At home I could only lie on the couch. The last three days before the operation I walked 25 metres at most."

Now he’s been reliefed of hellish pains after more than two months, he is thoroughly enjoying a 15-minute walk in the woods. "Who knew?", he laughs. "I never knew taking a stroll would be so pleasant."

From the moment he will enter the pool again today, it will be a constant evaluation till the Olympics of 2008 in Beijing. The question is whether or not he will be ready to enter the World Championships in Montreal end of July. And if he does, it remains to be seen if he will actually start on four distances (100m and 200m freestyle, 4 x 100m and 4 x 200m freestyle relay).

"The way things are now, I doubt I will be making twelve starts (series, semi-finals, finals per event) with two months to go from now. I will have to take good care of my body in the next few years. Squatting with 180 kilos in my neck or bench pressing is not an option for the time being. Luckily I can also do power training in the water."

He still hopes to win a third consecutive Olympic title at the 100m freestyle event. "But everything in my career, as from today, will be focussed on Beijing." His mission is not impossible. "When you think about it, I’ve been very lucky throughout my career regarding injuries. I’ve been in the top 4 of the world for the last nine years. This is, after a shoulder injury right before the Olympics in Sydney, only my second major setback. I consider it a signal of my body to take a step back."

The World Championships in Montreal, the European Championships in Helsinki and the World Championships of 2007 in Melbourne – the few major tournaments VDH will enter in the last phase of his career – don’t hold a candle against the Olympics. Even his dream of winning a world title will have to be sacrificed, if needed.

"If it turns out that it’s better for the long term not to go to Montreal, I won’t go. You have to be efficient with the remaining opportunities. Perhaps this will be a good moment in time to, besides on the 100m freestyle, definitely focus on the 50m freestyle instead of the 200m. But that’s too soon to tell. I don’t know yet where I stand in any case."

Source: Telegraaf

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Hernia surgery for Van den Hoogenband

Last Wednesday (May 4th) Pieter van den Hoogenband underwent surgery in The Hague for a hernia (slipped disk in his back). This hernia was the main reason for his back problems, which he suffered for several months. Whether or not he will compete at the World Championships is not an issue yet. But he will only go to Montreal if he is in good shape.

"Tomorrow the stitches are removed and I hope to resume training later this week. Then we’ll know where I stand. I will decide at the very last moment if I will compete at the World Championships. I want to go for the gold and don’t consider it a free holiday in Canada."

VDH had been suffering back pains for quite some time now. "As a top athlete you always suffer from aches here and there, but last March at the Flemish Championships in Antwerp it started to really bother me. At first I thought my back would benefit by weight lifting to strengthen my muscles, but the pain kept getting worse. Late March I even had to cancel the Dutch Open Swim Cup in Eindhoven.''

VDH then tried to control his back pain by tapering, but the pain still kept getting worse. He decided not to go on training camp in Cyprus with his team mates of NZE and went to the doctor’s instead. "I asked several physicians for advice. It soon became clear to me that an operation was inevitable. Last Tuesday I was examined by neurosurgeon Peul, who operated on me the very next day.''

To his relief the operation was a great success. "When the stitches are removed, I will go back into the pool. Whether or not I will go to the World Championships is not certain yet. It will become clear in the weeks to come. I will hold off that decision till the very last minute."

After defending his Olympic title at the 100m freestyle event last year in Athens, VDH aimed to break his own world record at the World Championships, which is 0.47.84 since he broke it in Sydney in 2000. This doesn’t seem realistic any more after his hernia operation. If all goes well, VDH will compete at the 100m and 200m freestyle events and the 4x100m and 4x200m relays.

Follow this link to watch an interview with VDH about this: Operation for Van den Hoogenband (click on the camera icon in the small right pane next to the article)

Friday, March 11, 2005

VDH is looking forward to Flemish Championships

"Satisfied, but completely exhausted! After two weeks of training camp in Epinal I really had to catch my breath. It was really tough. But it was necessary, especially after my vacation in South Africa. I didn’t expect it would go that well. So I’m really pleased with the result", said Pieter van den Hoogenband after returning home from his training camp in France.

This weekend (12-13 March) a large selection of VDH’s swim team NZE will enter the second edition of the Open Flemish Championships in Antwerp, Belgium. It will be the first swim meet for VDH after Athens.

"I really enjoyed that competition last year", says Pieter. "And it’s not far from home. I consider this event as a nice break from my training schedule. I will not be holding back, though. That wouldn’t be appropriate after training so hard in France. So it’s not a competition to get into shape. I will be competing at the 100m and 200m freestyle events." On Sunday, 13 March, at 2PM the finals will be broadcasted live on the Belgian TV channel SPORZA (TV1).

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Markus Rogan will train with VDH

As from mid March, the Austrian swimmer Markus Rogan will come to Eindhoven and train with Pieter van den Hoogenband and his team (NZE) for ten days. He will also enter the Dutch Open Swim Cup in Eindhoven end of March.

Rogan won a silver medal at the Olympics in Athens at the 100m and 200m backstroke event. At the European Championships short course last December in Austria, he won gold medals at the 200m backstroke and 200m IM events.

"It’s always good to have another swimmer join the team for a while", said coach Jacco Verhaeren. "Besides that, Markus is an excellent swimmer." It’s expected that Ian Thorpe will also join VDH’s team for a few days while he’s staying in The Netherlands. Thorpe is guest of honor at the Dutch Open Swim Cup in Eindhoven.

Source: Telegraaf

"No carnaval in Épinal" - Column by Pieter van den Hoogenband

I completely missed out on carnaval this year. During this festival I went on training camp in France with a group of swimmers from Eindhoven, so in Épinal none of us could be tempted to join the festivities. Too much alcohol is not good for a top athlete anyway, but it’s even a greater risk to catch a cold when you’re coming out of a pub and are sweating.

No, it’s better to train three times a day under ideal circumstances. Here in Épinal, which is about 4 and a half hours from Eindhoven by car, there are no distractions at all. I don’t want to make it sound as if the facilities in The Netherlands are not good enough, but it’s kind of distracting when they are preparing the pool during your training session for a “Sports & Games theme day”.

For this event they put small boats, rope ladders and other toys in the water. I’ve grown used to that by now, though. Some Australian and Chinese scientists who visited us to learn more about my training methods, were somewhat puzzled by it. They thought it was my secret weapon, or something.

Back home, I sometimes can’t finish my training session. Here in Épinal it’s not a problem to extend the session if I want to do that. We can do extra things, like another start or turning point. We are filming everything, so I can see what I'm doing right or wrong. That takes time and it’s wonderful when you're not rushed.

That luxury is much more important than staying in a five star hotel. I live a very simple life at training camp: training, physical therapy, eating, sleeping... We're staying in a hotel at a business park. The French are proud to have us here, they keep spoiling us. They gave me the nicest room of the hotel. That means it’s a room which is one metre bigger than the other rooms.

This week a French swim magazine is going to interview me. They’ve reserved ten pages for that. I’m wondering how on earth they are going to fill those? I’ll do my best, but I have no idea what to tell them. I can have a conversation in French, but I sometimes wish I had put more effort into languages at school instead of subjects like math, chemistry and physics. The French really appreciate it when you try to speak their language and I don’t want to disappoint them.

The funny thing is that the French find it quite difficult to pronounce my name. When my coach Jacco Verhaeren was talking to some French people, there was one word he couldn’t understand. He thought they were talking about some kind of scary disease. But they were pronouncing my name, as it seemed… “Vé Dé Asj”, or “VDH”.

No matter what they call me, I feel at home amongst the French. We will come to France for training camps many more times in the next few years. I gladly give up the carnaval festival for that. I’m not a big fan of that anyway. When we were still living in Maastricht, there was no escaping from it. I remember an old picture of my parents with their friends dressed up as bears. And yes, I’m on that picture in a bear suit as well. In a buggy, which my parents thought was a great way to transport a crate of beer…

Source: AD, 24 February 2005

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Ian Thorpe will compete with VDH at Dutch Open Swim Cup

Ian Thorpe will enter the Dutch Open Swim Cup in Eindhoven (March 25th-27th). The Olympic Champion of Sydney and Athens will be in Europe in March for promotional activities and a meet with VDH in Eindhoven will fit in his schedule.

As announced earlier, Thorpe will take a sabbatical this season and won’t enter any major tournaments, like the Australian Championships and the World Championships. He still trains, although not as intensively as usual, and he can’t resist to race against VDH.

The organization of the Dutch Open Swim Cup is proud to have Thorpe at the meet. Cees Rein van den Hoogenband (VDH’s father and board member): "Ian Thorpe is a fantastic swimmer and a great crowd pleaser. We are thrilled he accepted our invitation. Especially because there will be more great champions who will be competing at this meet!"

Gary Hall has also confirmed. The American won 2 gold Olympic medals at the 50m freestyle event. This event will be really spectacular at the Swim Cup, as Mark Foster and Michael Klim will also join the field.

Source: Zwemkroniek

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Van den Hoogenband elected ‘European Swimmer of the Year 2004’

Pieter van den Hoogenband has been elected 'European Swimmer of the Year 2004' by the American sports magazine Swimming World. It’s the fourth time VDH has won this title. In Europe he was the only male Olympic Champion of 2004. He’s also the only Dutch male athlete to make this list in the last 25 years. If he wins this title one more time, he and Michael Gross (German swimmer of the mid eighties) will be the only ones who won the title five times.

This is the list of ‘European Swimmers of the Year’ of the last 25 years:

2004 Pieter van den Hoogenband, The Netherlands
2003 Alexander Popov, Russia
2002 Pieter van den Hoogenband, The Netherlands
2001 Roman Sloudnov, Russia
2000 Pieter van den Hoogenband, The Netherlands
1999 Pieter van den Hoogenband, The Netherlands

1998 Denis Silantiev, Ukraine
1997 Emiliano Brembilla, Italy
1996 Denis Pankratov, Russia
1995 Denis Pankratov, Russia
1994 Alexander Popov, Russia
1993 Karoly Güttler, Hungary
1992 Evgheny Sadovyi, Russia
1991 Tamas Darnyi, Hungary
1990 Adrian Moorhouse, Great Britain
1989 Giorgio Lamberti, Italy
1988 Tamas Darnyi, Hungary
1987 Tamas Darnyi, Hungary
1986 Michael Gross, West Germany
1985 Michael Gross, West Germany
1984 Michael Gross, West Germany
1983 Michael Gross, West Germany
1982 Michael Gross, West Germany
1981 Sandor Wladar, Hungary
1980 Vladimir Salnikov, Sovjet Union


Monday, February 21, 2005

More training camps for VDH

The World Championships will be held from July 17th through 31st in Montreal after FINA had withdrawn earlier. Montreal lost the organization of the event due to major financial deficits. Yvon DesRochers, chairman of the organizational committee, committed suicide shortly after. FINA decided to give the organization back to Montreal after all.

Pieter Van den Hoogenband’s coach, Jacco Verhaeren, is again amazed at FINA’s decision. "I didn’t expect this outcome, but now all prior investments are at least not wasted. Although it’s an eternal shame that this cost someone’s life. It’s not good for the sport itself either. It leaves quite an amateuristic impression."

Verhaeren, who just returned with his team from a training camp in Epinal, France, sees only advantages now he can continue with his original planning. After the WC trials in March and April, he will leave with his team on training camp again in May and June; on Cyprus and in Vittel (France). The last four weeks before the World Championships, his swimmers will join the national team in Canada. The Dutch Swimming Association prefers to set up a training camp in these four weeks at the University of Halifax, but this is not definite yet.

Source: Jos van Kuijeren for Zwemkroniek

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Aleksandr Popov predicts great future for VDH

When swim legend Aleksandr Popov was asked recently if anyone could ever equal his list of awards, he made some bold statements. Popov didn’t expect any Russian swimmer to follow in his footsteps, but he also doubts that Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps could stay at the top for so long.

"I expect a group of leaders. That would be the best thing for the sport." The only swimmer he reckons would be able to equal his success, is Van den Hoogenband. "Pieter is a great swimmer, but also a great person. His technique is impeccable, eventhough you can’t compare him to me. But if he continues like he’s doing now, he has a long career still ahead of him. I really think he could be more successful than I ever was."

Source: Telegraaf

Monday, February 14, 2005

VDH’s arch rival Thorpe won’t compete at WC

Ian Thorpe will definitely not enter the World Championships in Montreal this year. His coach Tracey Menzies confirmed this today in Sydney. The Australian rival of Pieter van den Hoogenband decided to take a sabbatical in his preparation for the Olympics of 2008 in Beijing.

Thorpe had announced earlier that he wasn't sure he would compete at the WC. "In 2005, Ian will not compete for any world title. It will be hard for the Australian team, but Ian needs this for his preparation for the Olympics in Beijing", Menzies explained.

After Athens Thorpe mainly focussed on promotional activities and he hardly trained at all. Just like Dutch Olympic Champion Inge de Bruijn, he attended Aleksandr Popov's farewell party in Sankt Moritz, Switzerland, last month. According to Menzies it won’t be easy for Thorpe to get back into shape after his sabbatical, but she stays optimistic. "It will be tough, but I wouldn’t have agreed if I had thought he wouldn’t be capable of that. A break would be just what he needs to grow as an individual."

Thorpe is a world record holder with eleven gold medals. At the last WC in Barcelona in 2003, the Australian defeated Van den Hoogenband at the 200m freestyle event. At the Olympics in Athens last summer, Thorpe won two gold medals.

Source: Telegraaf

Friday, February 11, 2005

Watch Pieter van den Hoogenband at training camp

Of course, if you don't live in The Netherlands, you weren't able to watch yesterday's TV broadcast on VDH's training camp in France.

For those of you who want to watch Pieter in action, here's the link to a clip from that broadcast:

Pieter van den Hoogenband at training camp

On that page, click on the link under "Mediatheek" (right hand side).

Since most of you don't understand Dutch, here are a few highlights of the interviews with Pieter and his coach Jacco Verhaeren:

- His preparation for the World Championships has not been ideal, due to various sponsor obligations, TV appearances and so forth. He is back in full training, though. Verhaeren realizes they are behind on schedule, but is still optimistic about Pieter's chances at the WC.

- Pieter's ultimate goal is still winning his third consecutive gold medal at the 100m Olympic event.

- Pieter is amazed at the recent developments in Montreal. And apparently so are Thorpe, Phelps and Schoeman and their coaches. These four champions, including VDH, and their coaches are discussing setting up a Golden League, a sort of Champion League, where the great champions of swimming can compete and break world records. This would be a new incentive for sponsors as well.

- NZE - VDH's team - will offer all top Dutch swimmers a chance to join their organization. The goal is to set up one organization where top swimmers will have the same facilities as VDH.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

TV broadcast about VDH’s training camp in France

This evening at 10:30 PM (GMT+1) a short coverage will be broadcasted on Dutch television (Sportjournaal) about the selection of the Nationaal Zweminstituut Eindhoven (NZE), which is Van den Hoogenband’s swimming team.

The team is currently at training camp in Epinal, France, under supervision of trainers Jacco Verhaeren and Mandy van Rooden. Last Monday and Tuesday the team was followed by cameras, of which a short coverage was compiled.

Source: Jos van Kuijeren for Zwemkroniek

Press Release - World Championships 2005 hosted by Montreal after all

The FINA Bureau held today an Extraordinary Meeting in Frankfurt (Germany) and unanimously decided to reconsider its decision from 19th January 2005 and to confirm the organisation of the 11th FINA World Championships in Montreal, Québec, Canada, from 17-31 July 2005.

The Bureau, on behalf of all FINA Family, expresses its gratitude and appreciation to the three 2005 bidders which, through their efforts, significantly contribute to consolidate the credibility of the FINA World Championships and to enhance the worldwide image of our Sports.

++++++++ end of press release +++++++++

Unfortunately, chairman of the organization committee of the World Championships 2005, Yvon DesRochers, committed suicide after FINA decided to cancel the organization of the 11th FINA World Championships in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Van den Hoogenband impressed by Laure Manaudou

400m freestyle gold medallist Laure Manaudou is being feted as leader of the French swimming revolution, but she could just as easily have been sporting a pair of clogs as she mounted the podium.

Manaudou - second in an epic 800m freestyle at the Olympics in Athens to add to a 100m backstroke bronze - has a Dutch mother and, with her impressive performances in the Athens pool, the 17-year-old has made herself a second home in The Netherlands.

"Her shoulders rise out of the water superbly, with impeccable technique: she's really good," gushed Dutch 100m freestyle gold medallist Pieter van den Hoogenband. "Jacco [Verhaeren, VDH's coach] and I have spoken a lot about her. He dreams of coaching such a girl. He's convinced - as I am - that if she went for the 200m backstroke, she'd be unbeatable."

This dream might even come true, since Manaudou expressed her desire to represent The Netherlands after her clash with the French Swimming Association, who denied her world record at the 1500m event.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

”On safari Crocodile Dundee was watching over me” – Column by Pieter van den Hoogenband

On vacation in South Africa I’m enjoying every single minute. I’m having one adventure after the other, or shouldn’t I call an encounter with 39 elephants an adventure? At a wildlife reservation I got up close and personal with them.

I love being in such a natural environment. I realize that these are my last few days of leasure. When I get home, I will have to train my ass off again in preparation of the World Championships. But for now I can relax.

Even in South Africa I’m reminded of my Olympic success. When I arrived at the airport of Johannesburg two little guys were taking care of our luggage. They weren’t exactly beggars, but not much more than that either. When they put our suitcases next to a taxi, one of them said: “Could I ask you something? Are you Pieter van den Hoogenband?”

This is something that wouldn’t happen to Roland Schoeman, the South African swimmer who won the silver in Athens, in The Netherlands. Of course he is not an Olympic Champion, but I would bet anything that Michael Phelps wouldn’t be recognized at Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam). When he doesn’t wear his six gold medals around his neck, he could walk around our country anonimously. People would think he was just another American tourist and show him the way to the coffeeshops in Amsterdam.

Things are different in South Africa. On safari in the reservation our tour guide is a Crocodile Dundee clone. On our way to our camp, he took a good look at me. He took me aside and asked me: “Are you by any chance that Olympic Champion?” Who would expect something like that in the middle of nowhere?

This 'Crocodile Dundee' was watching over my girlfriend and me. He would wake us and the other tourists in our group at 5AM, so we could watch the animals at the water hole. Getting up so early in the morning made me take a nap in the afternoon underneath a tree. When I woke up, ‘Crocodile Dundee’ told me he had taken out a snake which had been twirling above my head in the tree. A poisonous snake. Like lethally poisonous. If I had been bitten, so I was told, I would have had to purify my blood within 24 hours.

In The Netherlands this is not something you give any second thought. Just like we don’t realize how well kept our highways are. In Africa the roads are in very poor shape and are full of dangerous holes. After the rain you don't see the holes and you bounce all over the place. I’m driving around in a beat up rental car and I can’t wait to get back to my own reliable Volkswagen.

But I'm not complaining. Life over here is quite relaxed and the food is great. I feel at home here and I’m even getting used to an unusual custom in traffic. When you take over a car, the other driver will move to the side of the road. When you’ve passed him you have to blink your lights twice as a way to say thanks. He will blink back twice with his beamer. Can you imagine if we’d do that back home? The highway would end up in total chaos.

Source: AD newspaper, January 17th, 2005

Also read other columns by Pieter van den Hoogenband:

- "Three beautiful blond women as a source of inspiration"

- “During the season, eating is work to me”

- “Among the elephants you learn to put things in perspective”

Monday, January 31, 2005

“Among the elephants you learn to put things in perspective” – Column by Pieter van den Hoogenband

After a safari of almost three weeks in Africa, I returned to normal life. The traffic - driving on the right side of the road again – wasn’t the only thing I had to get used to when I got back.

I’ve been in a completely different world. No television, no newspapers, no cell phone… It was really strange to see that Feyenoord (= Dutch soccer team) changed half their team when I got home. I didn’t know any of the new players.

When I travelled in South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana I noticed they follow Dutch football closely over there. The young tour guide from Botswana turned out to be a huge fan of the Dutch national team. He was very enthousiastic about players like Van Nistelrooy, Davids, Seedorf and Kluivert. He was also very impressed by Arjen Robben, who he watches on TV every week in the Premier League.

It was quite bizar to be in the middle of nowhere and have a conversation with my tour guide about sports. I was there for the wildlife and nature, which I really enjoyed. My experiences in Africa left an unforgettable impression. In such a completely new environment, you also have a chance to self-reflect and put things in perspective.

I camped out and drove around in a jeep to observe wild animals in their natural habitat. It’s really impressive to see 150 elephants at a river bank drinking water. When you’re only a few feet away from those giants, you realize how tiny and vulnerable you are as a human being. Those elephants could easily deroot a tree with their trunks. Imagine what would happen if they had pushed over our jeep.

In such an environment, you need a reliable guide. He took us to the most beautiful places. We could see up close how two lions were eating their prey. I was astonished to watch these two impressive predators which looked like giant kittens.

The tents we were sleeping in had an open shower. The guide told us that not too long ago, a lion had chased a zebra into one of these showers. When he returned from a safari with a group of tourists, they found a trail of bood leading to the half eaten zebra. A story like that is impressive.

A story like that comes to mind when you hear a terrifying scream in the middle of the night from one of the other tourists. But nothing bad happened… A Swedish tourist had almost stepped on a scorpion. A colleague of our guide had stepped on one of those earlier and had to be taken to hospital immediately.

On the day before we left, there was a big electric storm. The border river between Botswana and South Africa burst its banks and we had to be transported with a cable cart across the water. When I got off, the cable installation broke down. A friend of mine and two other tourists were stuck 10 metres above the raging water while 10 men were repairing the installation. It took half an hour before they were rescued.

Only when I was safe and sound and flying back home, I realized that some adventures could have taken a wrong turn. Of course you shouldn’t dwell on that for too long, though. I’ve had a great vacation and am recharged to start the season.

Source: AD newspaper, January 27th, 2005

Also read other columns by Pieter van den Hoogenband:

- "Three beautiful blond women as a source of inspiration"

- “During the season, eating is work to me”

- ”On safari Crocodile Dundee was watching over me”

Friday, January 28, 2005

Van den Hoogenband’s role model Aleksandr Popov retires

Now Aleksandr Popov retires, we lose one of the best sprinters in the history of swimming. His legacy is impressive: in his 13-year reign, the "Czar” won 41 medals, including four golds and five silvers at the Olympics and six golds at World Championships. He intends to become the chairman of the Russian swimming association and pursue a career at the International Olympic Committee.

Popov, who started as a backstroker, emerged in 1991 with an European title at the 100m freestyle event. One year later, at the age of twenty, he won his first two gold medals at the Olympics. It was the beginning of an unrivalled series of victories at the 100m event. Up to 1999 he would stay undefeated at all major tournaments!

Pieter van den Hoogenband finally dethroned him at the EC in 1999 and again in 2000 at the Olympics. Popov held the world record (48.21 seconds) at the 100m freestyle since June 18th, 1994. It lasted for six years untill it was broken at the Olympics in Sydney first by the Australian Michael Klim (0.48.18) and later in the finals by Pieter van den Hoogenband (0.47.84). This record still stands today!

Original Dutch text by: Jos van Kuijeren for Zwemkroniek

Thursday, January 27, 2005

First official swim meet for Van den Hoogenband in 2005

Van den Hoogenband resumed training on January 24th in Eindhoven. He will start his season at the Open Flemish Championships in Antwerp (Belgium) from March 11th through 13th and will be joined by a large selection of his club NZE.

This meet will be the first World Championship qualifying meet for most swimmers this season. However, for most NZE swimmers qualification is expected at the Dutch Open Swim Cup in Eindhoven (Easter weekend), the Swim Cup in Amsterdam (April 9th and 10th) or the National Championships in Amsterdam (April 21st through 24th). Van den Hoogenband will only enter the National Championships if he won't qualify for the WC in the earlier meets.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

“You can work on mentality”

On October 7th, 2004, Pieter van den Hoogenband held a keynote speech at the Faculty of Accountancy in Den Bosch, The Netherlands, about peak performances.

“The more pressure, the better I perform. I live for it.”

The Olympic Champion was invited to speak at a workshop on 'motivation and mentality’, organized by accountancy firm Ernst & Young, sponsor of Van den Hoogenband. The students absorbed every word listening to Van den Hoogenband while he told them about the legendary 100 metre free style race in Athens where he won the gold for the second consecutive time.

“I was behind, but I didn’t panic. I knew I would still win the race. When I finished I hit the board so hard, my fingers were still sore when I was holding a bottle of water long after the race.”

Only later he realized how many people watched his race. “It’s a great thing that so many people get so much fun out of watching your performance.”

Motivation is an essential factor in a performance at this level. Van den Hoogenband spends six days a week at the pool and he works out on dryland. “You set a goal for yourself. Each training is another step to a peak performance. Of course it’s hard sometimes, especially when your muscles ache. But when you focus on that one goal, the Olympic title, you just go for it.”

Mentality is also the drive for his success. “Some so-called top athletes are on cruise-control. They go through the motions of their training program and don’t focus on improving themselves. You have to be aware of your goals.”

That mentality doesn’t come out of the blue. It’s a process. According to Van den Hoogenband, this is something you can work on. “As a child, I had a lot of talent. It was easy for me. When I trained, I really went for it. But if I didn’t feel like it, I just skipped a training. I noticed that other swimmers who were less talented achieved almost the same results through hard work. That was the turning point for me. I figured I could get really far with my talent if I would just put in the extra hours. It’s essential to figure this out yourself. Only then you can improve your mentality.”

One of the students asked him if he gets nervous before a race like the 100m finals in Athens. “It’s a kind of addiction. I’m not nervous, but I enjoy it to the fullest. It’s the highest achievable in my sport.” He does admit being alert on things he can’t control, like a goggle filling up with water or a swim suit not being tight enough. As a 12-year old he once had an embarrassing experience when he hadn’t tightened the cord in his swim suit tight enough. “I had to pull up my trunks every two strokes.”

Also read other background articles related to Pieter van den Hoogenband:

- Finding new sponsors

- Tom Dolan analyses Van den Hoogenband

- “Winning the gold three consecutive times will be a mission impossible”

- A trainer can also peak

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Competition for Van den Hoogenband

At the World Cup short track event in Berlin two world records were broken, but not by the German favorite Thomas Rupprath. The South Africans, who amazed the world at the last Olympics, were the top dogs and won the 4000 dollar bonuses.

Roland Schoeman equalled the world short track record of Ian Crocker at the 100 free style: 46.25. Pieter van den Hoogenband, who returned home from his vacation in South Africa on January 24th, knows now what he’s up against this season.

Schoeman almost denied Van den Hoogenband his second Olympic title at the 100m event in Athens. At the 25m track in Berlin he again started at warp speed, his trademark. The speedy South African took off at 0.16 seconds after the start signal. Schoeman turned at 21.91 – as a comparison, he won the 50m event on Sunday in 21.45 – and was 0.25 seconds below Crocker’s world record pace of March last year (East Meadow). Only in the final phase of the race, just like in August when he was ahead of Van den Hoogenband for most of the race, he lost his advantage. The Dutch short track record of VDH, who is not very strong at starts and turns, is 46.81.

Source: ANP

Monday, January 24, 2005

Auction of original VDH photograph for tsunami victims

Various Dutch photographers have put their best photographs up for auction to raise money for the victims of the tsunami in Asia.

Pim Ras shot this amazing photo at the 100m free style finals at the Olympics in Athens, 2004. The original can be yours!

The direct link to the auction of VDH’s photograph is: VDH AUCTION

The bidding ends on Jan 27th, 2005 at 23:59:59, so you have a few days left to bid! Please keep in mind that this is for charity and you should only place a bid if you intend to pay for it!


Tom Dolan analyses Van den Hoogenband

It’s always interesting to hear what other great athletes think of their colleagues. Prior to the dream battle between Van den Hoogenband, Thorpe and Phelps at the 200m free style finals at the Olympics in Athens, Tom Dolan analysed the semi-finals and Van den Hoogenband in particular:

“Van den Hoogenband looks like he's swimming really well. I thought Thorpe looked good in his 200 semifinal, as did Phelps, but I thought van den Hoogenband looked really good. Of the three, he looked the best. He's a different type of swimmer. He has much more easy speed up front, meaning he's flat-out more of a sprinter than Thorpe and Phelps. The interesting part of the race is how he uses that to advantage. I would imagine he would go out much harder and just try to get out ahead of Thorpe and Phelps and hang on. Thorpe and Phelps are probably better closers than Van den Hoogenband, but he has way more speed up front.”

Unfortunately VDH lost the gold to Thorpe, but he still won the silver before Phelps. An exciting race!

Source quote:

Also read other background articles related to Pieter van den Hoogenband:

- “You can work on mentality”

- Finding new sponsors

- “Winning the gold three consecutive times will be a mission impossible”

- A trainer can also peak