Belgium hires Fred Vergnoux as new coach of the Federation

The Royal Belgian Swimming Federation carried out a sensational recruitment, bringing Fred Vergnoux as the new National Swimming Head Coach.

French-born Vergnoux was most recently the head coach of the National Training Center in Spain as well as the country’s Olympic head coach since 2013.

While Ben Titley is now on his way to Spain, Vergnoux is heading to Belgium.

Vergnoux’s most recent success was as a coach of Mireia Belmonteowner of four Olympic medals, including a gold medal in the 200m butterfly from the 2016 Olympics. Besides Belmonte, he has worked with Alena Popchenka, Amaury Leveauxand Kirsty Balfour.

In total, the swimmers of Vergnoux have won 5 Olympic medals in swimming, the same number that Belgium has won in the history of its nation.

The RBSF says its intention is to “build a successful Belgian swimming team again over the next 6 years” until at least the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028 under Vergnoux. He will have “direct sporting technical leadership” from elites and juniors in addition to directing talent identification and development programs.

Belgium sent only two swimmers to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics: Louis Croenen, who finished 28th in the 100 butterfly and 16th in the 200 butterfly; and Fanny Lecluyse, who finished 26th in the 100 breaststroke and 8th in the 200 breaststroke. Lecluyse, who last raced at the 2021 World Short Course Championships in December, was sent home early after an “incident of inappropriate behavior” when she appeared drunk in the Olympic Village. Lecluyse announced his retirement in December.

Croenen will be Belgium’s only male representative in the pool at the World Championships which begin on Saturday, where he will swim the 100 butterfly and 200 butterfly. Three women will travel to Budapest: Valentine Dumont (100/200/400 free), Fleur Vermeiren (50 breasts) and Florine Gaspard (50 breasts/100 breasts). Logan Vanhuys will also compete in open water events.

Belgium has qualified major men’s and women’s rosters, including men’s relays, for the 2015 and 2019 World Championships. The country‘s most recent medal at the World Aquatics Championships was in 1998, when Frederik Deburghgraeve won the Men’s 100m breaststroke.

The hiring of Vergnoux comes after the resignation at the beginning of May of the president of the RBSF Daniel Motton.

Vergnoux’s previous stops include as a coach at Racing club de France (1997 -2000), CS Clichy 92 (2002 -2004), head coach City of Edinburgh (2004 -2008), men’s head coach at Grande- Brittany (OS Beijing Great Britain), Natacion Sabadell club, head coach and coach of the Spanish national team (2010 -2013).

The achievements of its athletes:

  • 8 world records
  • 11 European records
  • 3 Commonwealth records
  • 9 South American discs
  • 5 Olympic medals
  • 22 medals at world championships
  • 38 medals at the European Championships

In Belgium, Vergnoux will work with a population around a quarter the size of Spain at 11.5 million.

BELSWIM has 70,600 registered members at recreational and competitive levels across the five Olympic disciplines, 75% of whom are young people under the age of 18. They compete in 233 affiliated clubs, 149 Flemish and 84 French-speaking.

Vergnoux succeeds Ronald Claes, who took office on September 1st. He was ousted earlier this year after the influential FFBN, which oversees French clubs, fired him as head coach. This left the national federation with no choice but to fire him as well. The FFBN is widely credited in the recruitment of Vergnoux by the national federation.

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