National swim coach Eric Landa (C)
with Christian Nikles (R) and
Anderson Lim.Picture: BT
Eric Landa knows exactly what he wants from his swimmers at tomorrow's 14th Fina World Championships in Shanghai.
Though he is not targeting any medals at the highly-competitive event, the national swim coach will be satisfied if his two swimmers break their own national records.
Christian Nikles, 13, will be trying to break the national 50 metres and 100m freestyle records while Anderson Lim Chee Wei, 15, is gunning to better the 200m and 400m freestyle records at the July 16-31 event.
Nikles's time in the 50m is 26.01 seconds and 100m is 57.59 seconds.
Lim's time is 2:08.18 in the 200m and 4:33.76 in the 400m.
"These guys will be facing swimmers they see all the time on television and I won't be surprised if they finish last or second from last," said Landa yesterday.
"Anderson's will be swimming some difficult events ... Michael Phelps's events.
"We are going there to try and be faster than we have ever been and break national records that's the aim.
"They'll be under a lot of pressure but I think they'll be alright. If everything goes well they should be able to break them.
"Of course, a lot of things can happen. They are external elements like the food and the crowd. They have never swam in front of 18,000 people and I can't prepare them for that.
"But I have a lot of experience in these kind of competitions and I think our swimmers will be alright," added the Dutchman.
To say that Landa who has been coaching for the past 15 years is no stranger to international swimming tournaments would be an understatement.
He has been to the last four Olympics, either as an observer or a coach.
Together with current Netherlands national swim coach Jacco Verhaeren, the duo have produced 10 Olympic medallists the most notable triple Olympic champion Pieter van den Hoogenband and four-time Olympic gold medallist Ingrid de Bruijn.
A former professional cyclist, Landa started as a swim coach in his native Netherlands from 1989 to 2002.
He was a trainer at the Singapore Swimming Club from 2002 to 2005 and helped coach the five Singaporean swimmers who qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympics during his stint in the city-state.
He was then in New Zealand to train a club side for a year before spending the next three years, from 2006 to 2009, in Egypt as the national coach.
Landa then moved on to Canada as the head age-group coach for the University of Calgary Swim Club.
He took over the reins in Brunei in April and, since then, 10 national records have been broken.
This being Nikles and Lim's first time at the world championships, Landa expects a certain amount of nerves especially with the best swimmers in the world set to descend on the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre.
"They're going to swim against some world-class swimmers, so of course, they're pumped up!," said Landa.
"Of course, this is the biggest competition in the world, so for them, they should be happy they have reached this stage.
"They can't think 'Oh, I'm a little guy from a little country ...'
"I know word-class swimmers, and though they will see you are from a lesser known country, they will still respect you. You made it to the tournament because you are the best in your country," he noted.
Apart from swimming, four other aquatic disciplines will be held; diving, synchronised swimming, water polo and open water swimming.
The tournament will also serve as qualifiers for the 2012 London Olympics but the lack of quality girl swimmers is the main reason it is just Nikles and Lim representing the country in Shanghai.
It also means there will be no Bruneian female swimmers in London next year.
Landa is fine with that.
"They need to be at this competition to be at the Olympics, so we won't have any girl swimmers at the next Olympics," he said.
"I've had talks with the association (Brunei Amateur Swimming Association) and the Department of Youth and Sports and I've told them that these girls are just not fast enough now.
"They are all at the same level so it wouldn't be fair if I picked one over another. Let's not assume that I pick you, and then in one year's time you'll be at the level.
"For me it's not about boy or girl. It's alright though ... The girls can use it as motivation to train harder," he insisted.
The trio will be leaving on Monday.
Courtesy from Brunei Times