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Phelps' coach outlines plan to develop UAE swimmers

posted on 20/02/2013: 2534 views

Bob Bowman, the man who coached the legendary Michael Phelps to an unprecedented 22 Olympic medals, has heaped praise on Dubai's Hamdan Sports Complex aquatic centre, saying it was "beyond belief” and "best in the world”.

The 48-year-old American, who trained Phelps from when he was an 11-year-old to the moment he retired after the London Olympics last year, met with the Dubai Sports Council on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of starting a centre of excellence in association with the Phelps Foundation.

Bowman said: "It's an honour for me to be here and to visit Dubai for the first time and I think this can become a great place for swimming to grow and develop.

"Michael Phelps and I share the goal of raising the profile of the sport of swimming. As part of that we want to go to areas where we think there are great opportunities such as Dubai and help local children to learn how to swim and progress through the ranks so that they can compete against the best in the world and enjoy the real benefits of the great sport of swimming.

"We are in early stages of negotiations where I can provide some technical expertise in bringing some swimmers here and start a centre of excellence from this facility, which is amazing.”

And Bowman did not stop there in describing the Hamdan Sports Complex. "I was incredibly impressed by the facilities here – it is beyond belief and I am sure it is the best in the world.

"It's a great place where some exciting things can happen with young athletes,” he added. "I think the thing that struck me the most was the scope of the facility. It's so big with permanent seating for 15,000 people, no swimming venue in the world has that.

"It's amazing the vision that has gone into putting the pool together. If I look at it from the technical standpoint, it has everything you need for success.

"It has a wonderful training pool, it has the ability to change the depth and the courses. The competition pool itself is spectacular and the quality of water is excellent. The facilities for training, for weights and gyms – they are just fantastic.

"I think now the only thing you need are the athletes and technical support staff.”

Bowman said there was no reason why the UAE cannot produce a swimming world champion in the future. "I think the first requirement is really that they have got to start young.

"If you want to have a world champion, he has got to be someone who is four or six-years-old right now and learning how to swim,” he explained. "I must stress that the sport of swimming is great not only because of its Olympic success, but because what children learn through the process of training and growing as a young adult through swimming.

"They learn how to do goal-setting, they learn how to be disciplined, they learn how to handle frustrations and setbacks – the personal growth they get is as important as the material medals they might win.

"So, they must start young and they must have a long-term, carefully-planned coaching programme to help them achieve the goals.”


After successful stints at various US teams, Bowman came to prominence at the North Baltimore Club where he produced three national champions, 10 national finalists and 5 US Team members.

It was then he started coaching Michael Phelps, who he'd help become an 18-time Olympic Gold medallist.

Bowman is a three-time Coach of the Year and has been to three Olympic Games with the US team. – Sport 360°


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