Read Politiken (in Danish)
At the first Great Danes assembly, this weekend, Danish national coach Nick Juba listed up a slew of exciting Team Danmark financed challenges abroad, with support from experts in coaching, nutrition and sports psychology, in return for an investment in courage, positive attitude and ambition from the 10-12 talented young Danish male athletes that have been selected.
Challenges will include intense weekend meets in Antwerpen, Eindhoven, Marseille, Bergen, Monaco and Canet, and a specific demand has been placed on them to stay Great Danes, that they by September next year have at least one top-100 placing on FINA’s Swimming World Rankings, have improved their ranking by 75 places, or have been selected for an international meet in 2014.
The young guns are awed but excited, Magnus Westerman said “I sat and almost got chills. This will be exciting to be part of.” National coach Nick Juba said [translated by Politiken and then back again from Danish to English here] ‘We need to create pride about being Great Danes. It will be tough, but must remember to have some fun along the way.’
Mick Steen Nielsen is the first coach assigned to this project, and Melbourne 2007 World Championships bronze medalist Jakob Andkjær their mentor. The goal is within three years to have created finalists at international championships.
Asked why this hadn’t been done in his time, former Danish Elite Sports Chief Lars Sørensen said, “In the old system, there was no time to devote ourselves to this sort of stuff as [former Danish national coach Paulus Wildeboer] basically had to carry two positions simultaneously. It’s super positive that new things are being tried, and it’s really good that the boys are separated from the girls, even if there is a new generation on the way, of which the boys have the greatest potential.”
Politiken has this video along the story, where of the Great Danes, Magnus Westerman, is interviewed. Here is a quick Google translated transcription:
‘My name is Magnus Westerman. I’m from Herlev Swimming. My biggest dream as a swimmer would be to get to the Olympics in 2016. A typical week for me is that I get up at a quarter to five, eat breakfast, go to practice, go home from training, go to school, and after school I go home and relax, sleep about an hour, go to practice again in the evening. So I get up the next day and go to practice again, go home and eat some food, go to school, and then I go to practice again after school. Then Wednesday morning we are free from training, and often also Wednesday night, unless we strength train, as we sometimes do. And then Thursday and Friday we do as Monday and Tuesday. And then Saturday morning we train from nine o’clock to twelve, and then we have the weekend off after that. My greatest experience as a swimmer was when I was at the European Juniors in 2013. Was in the final along with three other boys. Unfortunately, it was also one of my biggest disappointments, that I came to swallow water when I after 50 meters came up to breathe after the first arm stroke, which is a pretty dumb technical mistake. But that meant we did not get the gold medal that we were otherwise hoping for. My biggest disappointment outside the basin was in 2009, when I was going to Youth Olympics, and two days before, on the way to training was hit by a motorist. That characterizes probably my biggest disappointment in my whole life as swimmer. European Championships in Herning will definitely be the greatest experience of my swimming career.’
The Great Danes are as of this moment these ten, after also selected Søren Dahl and Anton Ørskov Ipsen opted for an education and swimming career in the USA. Which means a couple more might be selected, before the first real challenges in January 2014.
- Magnus Westermann, Herlev, 18
- Daniel Steen Andersen, Horsens, 18
- Morten Bak Hansen, Jyllinge/A6, 18
- Joachim Mortensen, S68 Hjørring, 18
- Emil Klingberg, Kvik Kastrup, 25
- Viktor Bromer, Aalborg, 20
- Magnus Jakubsson, Sigma Nordsjælland/Allerød, 19
- Sebastian Ovesen, Slagelse/Team Vestsjælland, 19
- Kevin Witt Christensen, Farum, 17
- Daniel Skaaning, VAT/Taastrup, 20