SWIMNEWS ONLINE: January 1997 Magazine Articles

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Cecil M. Colwin

Ottawa - Swimming Canada has announced that Jan Bidrman, coach of Penny Heyns, the 100 and 200 breaststroke gold medallist, at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, has been named head coach of the swimming program, Team COREL, at the National Sport Centre in Calgary.

In Atlanta, Bidrman led the seven-member South African team to six top eight finalists, including Marianne Kriel's bronze medal in the 100 backstroke. Bidrman's credits also include medallists and finalists at the world championships in 1994, the Pan Pacs in 1995, and the 1995 World University Games.

Bidrman, who hails from Rakovnik, Czechoslovakia, has been an assistant coach to Cal Bentz at the University of Nebraska since 1992. A member of the Czechoslovakian national team from 1980 to 1985, Bidrman represented Sweden in the I.M. at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics in Seoul and Barcelona respectively. His Swedish 200 and 400 I.M. national records still stand, and he once held the European short course record in the 400 I.M.

According to the University of Nebraska's Media and Recruiting Guide, "Bidrman finished fourth in the 400 I.M. at the 1990 NCAA Championships. In 1991, he placed sixth in the 200 I.M. at the World Swimming Championships in Perth, Australia. Bidrman finished his career with a 14th-place finish in the 400 I.M. at the Olympic Games in Barcelona."

"In 1990, Bidrman was an Academic All-American, and in 1993, he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in international business from the University of Nebraska. He completed his master's degree in economics in December, 1995."

Immigration Procedures Underway

Swimming Canada says that immigration procedures are underway for Bidrman's transfer to Canada, with February 1997 as the targeted starting date. Bidrman fills the position left by Deryk Snelling, who has gone on to lead the swimming program in Great Britain.

Commenting on Bidrman's appointment, Canadian Head Coach Dave Johnson said "The bottom line around the program in Calgary is that we have a series of funding partners, including Sport Canada, and the Nationals, which is basically under the National Sport Centre, Swimming Canada, etc."

"We advertised for this position, and we had a number of very good candidates; seven written applications, and three other verbal interviews that I went through in Atlanta. Some very good candidates were interested in this portfolio.

"SNC decided to hire Jan Bidrman, who is the coach of Penny Heyns. He is a young coach with incredibly fast track results. He had the head coaching portfolio of the South African Olympic team and was responsible, not only for Penny directly but a number of other swimmers, Julia Russsell was one of his swimmers, who finished 11th in the Olympics, but he also had the entire responsibility of the preparation of their team, and if you look at what their team did, they swam very well at the Olympics. They had a couple of other medals; Marianne Kriel won bronze in the backstroke, that comes to mind immediately.

"One world record and two Olympic gold medals are very good credentials. I feel that a new person, with this kind of background and experience, can bring a dimension into Canada that is going to make other people pull up their socks and look at things maybe a little bit differently.

"Jan will fit into the Canadian system very well. He had spent some time in Canada in the early 90s when he was on his way from Czechoslovakia to Sweden, and ultimately to Nebraska, and now back to Canada. Two of his colleagues, Vlastimil Cerny and Marcel Gery, have settled in Canada and done very, very well. And I feel that, more than that, not necessarily specifically to Jan, the approach of bringing a calibre coach, an Olympic gold-medal-winning coach, to Canada is a healthy one, and I felt that he was the best person for this job."

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