Stephan Widmer departs SSA early
The Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) today announced that national swimming head coach and performance director, Stephan Widmer and SSA have mutually agreed to terminate his contract as of 17 October 2021.
Widmer had gone on overseas leave before the Tokyo Olympics opened on July 23 and was due to return to Singapore in mid-October. However, he has not flown back to Singapore from China as of Monday.
Earlier, a promotional video published by China-based LJ Swimming Club had emerged online, revealing that Widmer had joined the Beijing-based outfit. Its founder, former Chinese swimmer Liu Jing, made the surprise announcement in the minute-long clip.
It is believed that the video was recorded before the July 23-Aug 8 Olympics.
However, he was then still employed by SSA and his contract was to run till Dec 31.
SSA Executive Director, Edwin Ker said, “Stephan Widmer has clarified and apologised to SSA about the video. SSA gave Stephan a leave of absence to help him to resolve his personal matters since July. The SSA ensured that the preparations for the Olympics were not affected during this period.”
Australian Widmer, who joined SSA in 2017, was granted leave to skip the Olympics and did not travel to Japan with swimmers Joseph Schooling, Quah Zheng Wen and Quah Ting Wen in July.
In his absence, SSA technical director Sonya Porter took charge, while Sergio Lopez, Widmer’s predecessor, was in Schooling’s corner.
Widmer had arrived in Singapore with an impressive CV as state head coach of Queensland with Swimming Australia. He had previously worked with Olympic champions Libby Trickett, Leisel Jones and Jessicah Schipper, while his swimmers had set 20 world records and won 16 world championship titles.
During his time with the SSA, Singapore won a bronze at the 2017 world championships; two golds, one silver and three bronzes at the 2018 Asian Games; and 42 golds at the 2017 and 2019 SEA Games.
With the national swim team facing a packed competition schedule next year with the SEA Games (mid-May), July 28-Aug 8 Commonwealth Games and Sept 10-25 Asian Games, Ker added: “SSA will be announcing our plans soon. Given our depth in the coaching fraternity, SSA will continue to ensure that his departure does not affect our swimmers and coaches.”