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Swim guru Nagy impressed by talent in Singapore

by ZwemZa on May 13th, 2018

Singapore Sports School’s two new swimming coaches – Hungarian guru Jozsef Nagy (right) and alumna Mylene Ong (left) – will contribute to the school’s Learn-to-Train programme to nurture talent in primary schools. TNP PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

In his 42 years as a swimming coach, Jozsef Nagy has achieved a great deal, moulding many swimmers into Olympic medalists.

His proteges include United States’ 1992 Olympic 200m breaststroke champion Mike Barrowman and Spaniard Sergio Lopez, who took the bronze in the event at Seoul 1988 and later became Singapore Swimming Association’s head coach from 2014 to 2016.

Nagy has made Singapore his next port of call. The 66-year-old Hungarian was unveiled as Singapore Sports School (SSP)’s swimming coach yesterday.

Nagy received acclaim for inventing the breaststroke’s “wave technique”, where swimmers delivered faster times by lifting their torsos higher and lunging forward, instead of gliding along the surface with their bodies low in the water.

He hopes to use his expertise to help develop young swimmers in Singapore, saying: “I would not only like to share my experience, but I would also like to use my experience to help the kids in training time.”

Nagy revealed that he had spoken to Lopez about coaching in Singapore before his appointment. Nagy said: “He told me you have experience, you can see everything, one thing is sure: you never, ever can find any better circumstances for swimming.”

He recalled being in awe of Singapore’s swimming facilities during his visit here a decade ago for a training camp with the Canadian swimming team before the 2008 Beijing Olympics and had the intention of coming back to work.

Nagy has returned to Singapore four times as a visiting coach since last October and has been impressed with the talent he’s seen.

He said: “As a visiting coach, I saw their situation and I thought to myself: this is good, we can start from here and let’s see what we’re able to do.”

Coaching alongside Nagy will be former national swimmer and SSP alumna Mylene Ong.

Ong, 26, had her fair share of success as a swimmer – winning five gold medals at the SEA Games and representing Singapore at the 2012 London Olympics. But she decided to focus on coaching full-time the following year.

Ong hopes to use her experience to groom the next generation of the Republic’s swimmers.

She said: “Singapore Sports School is my alma mater and I’ve been in the (athletes’) shoes.

“If I can share my experiences and let them know what I’ve been through or what I know they’re going through, it can help them along the way as well as my experiences in competitions.”

Both Nagy and Ong will also contribute to the Sports School’s Learn-to-Train programme in collaboration with swimming school Swimfast Aquatic Group.

The initiative, which starts in September, is aimed at providing primary school pupils between the ages of 10-12 with the opportunity to develop their swimming talent.

SSP principal Tan Teck Hock, who said the fees will be “affordable”, believes that the initiative will help to grow the talent pool of swimmers.

He said: “Programmes like these are essential if Singapore wants to up its game.

“The probability of identifying the next Joseph Schooling is going to be that much but, if you make this programme more affordable, you enhance the catchment area, you bring it out to a lot more people who previously could not afford it.

“That would be the surest way to ensure that Singapore swimming continues to succeed.”

Kimberley Kwek | The New Paper

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