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”