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Tuesday 14 May 2013

Dutch Swimming Anyone?!

Lately I've been researching Dutch Swimming.  I don't know the statistics offhand but I can tell you that the Dutch team's results (based off their population VS. their medal count at major meets) is astounding.  Their coaches and athletes are focused, knowledgeable, and humble -- from what I can tell.  It seems that they fuse a scientific approach and an intuitive approach. 

I wonder if anyone who may read this blog has seen any literature/videos on the Dutch approach to training.  I've checked youtube and I can find a few videos, but most of the videos are not about the nuts and bolts of training....and those that are about training (I presume) are not in English.  I'd love to learn more, but my Dutch is not very good!

All this being said, I'm not sure I can really use this potential knowledge just yet with my athletes.  We are still at the beginning stages of development (physically, yes -- but for the most part I'm speaking of 'emotional readiness').  It remains to be seen if we will ever get there, but we've got some promising younger athletes who could do it.  As my athletes get more into being 'great people' and 'great athletes', I want to be as prepared as possible. 

Please post any leads on Dutch training in the comments section.  I know SOMEBODY is out there with some good information.


  1. I've wondered the same thing about their training & thoughts on technical aspects. I hope somebody has something they can & will share (in English, as my Dutch is non-existent)

  2. I dont, but did notice Anthony Ervin bring up their sprinter's training during an interview at the Charlotte Grand Prix. Would be impressive to hear what they do, and if it is more the older professional athlete or if they encourage their age groupers to have similar training plans

  3. The dutch system is built around the training philosophy of Jan Olbrecht. His book The Science of Winning is available on amazon in kindle form.

    Also check this link to an article on training Van Den Hoogenband: http://www.swim-city.com/library.php3?id=123

  4. Thanks everyone! I have attempted to order Jan Olbrecht's book, but it is out of print. I guess I have to get a kindle! ....my feeling is: you can't ignore the success of the Dutch athletes/coaches over the last 15-20 years...

    1. Paul, it is available to download on your ipad or iphone as long as you have the kindle app which is free.

  5. Thanks! I do have an iPad. I was under the impression that I needed a "kindle" ... so this is good news. I'll check it out.

  6. Hi Paul,
    In Holland kids grow up with water and at least 80% get swimming lessons before 6. Sometimes via swimming clubs but mostly via council lessons or commercial organizations.
    Swimming in Holland is organized in clubs, no college or university swimming. Almost all clubs are run by volunteers except for some of the large ones. Result, most coaches are volunteers as well. Very few are paid. This does mean that member fees are low (in general for young kids under $200 per year).
    For age group swimmers the KNZB has developed a plan based on the ideas of Istvan Balyi, Long-Term Athlete Development. When older then the training philosophy of Jan Olbrecht becomes more and more important (by the way, you can try http://www.swimshop.co.uk/the-science-of-winning-dr-jan-olbrecht they might still have one).

    For myself it's about fun and confidence first. So I teach them technique and how to swim. After that we start to learn to train and only then it's about racing. Most important now is the intrinsic motivation. The athlete has to get me to train him not the other way round.

    Hope this helps a bit :-).

    Dick Bronder

  7. I remember Bowman making a connection to Jan Olbrecht when he gave his talk on Training for Capacity vs. Utilization.

    "a guy named Jan Olbrecht. He had written a book called, “The Science of Winning.” And man is it a dense in terms of information book. I think I’ve read it eight times I almost understand it. But he talks a lot about some general training categories and he talked about – and I think a lot of it is the translation. Aerobic endurance and aerobic power, anaerobic endurance and anaerobic power and what he means by those are aerobic capacity, aerobic utilization, anaerobic capacity, and anaerobic utilization."

    I would love to hear your thoughts after you read the book.