Swimming NZ land high performance director

Last updated 11:51 08/12/2012

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Swimming New Zealand has secured a promising European as high performance director.

Luis Villanueva, former technical director of the Spanish Swimming Federation, has accepted the Kiwi vacancy and will cast his eye over the squad at next week's world short course championships in Istanbul, Turkey.

Spain has aimed at developing its swim programme to become internationally competitive.

Villanueva, who held the Spainish position since 2009, led a much improved performance at the London Olympics with Spain gaining two silver medals, four finals and seven semi finals.

He has been responsible for the development and implementation of a high performance plan for the national team and the recruitment and management of their professional staff.

Their star was Mireia Belmonte who become the first Spanish female swimmer to win an Olympic medal. At Beijing in 2008, Spain had achieved no medals, one final and three semi-finals.

Swimming New Zealand said they had taken time to find the person with the right skills to fill the role.

"We wanted someone with a technical and coaching background but most importantly with the skills in planning and directing the implementation of a world class high performance programme," Brent Layton, Swimming New Zealand chairman, said.

"We wanted someone who also understood the resources and challenges of a programme of New Zealand's size within a global sport competing against nations with many more swimmers.

"We also wanted someone inspired by this challenge.

"Luis has the credentials to help us achieve our goals. He faced similar challenges within his own country and over four years established a successful model."

Villanueva says he wants to instil an ethos of "not to just get to the Olympic Games, but to win there."

"The Games require a lot of hard work and the swimmers have to be optimally prepared to achieve their best performance under maximal stress," Villanueva said.

"Training a lot is not enough to win. We need swimmers who can compete in extreme situations. A complete commitment of the athlete with their preparation is also a must every day of the year and every hour of the day."

Villanueva will formally begin the role in mid-January 2013.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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