Inge Dekker: “I am slowly learning who I am outside the pool”

The well-known swimmer Inge Dekker is studying the Master in Coaching at Johan Cruyff Institute. She wrote this column for Telesport

Everything is clear in the life of a top swimmer – you train, you recover and you swim important competitions. I stopped swimming a while ago and in the beginning I missed having a goal. In my “normal” life, my goal is less clear than when I was still swimming and I had to get used to that.

Looking back on my swimming career, I am extremely grateful that I was able to swim at a high level for years. I experienced many beautiful things and top sport drove me to develop myself into the person I am now.

inge-dekker- Master in Coaching - Johan Cruyff Institute

In January, I started the Master in Coaching at Johan Cruyff Institute thanks to the Telesport scholarship. The way in which we are encouraged to search in our personality for who we truly are is very good and challenging. I think I knew who I was as a swimmer but when I quit, I had to discover myself again. Now, I am slowly learning who I am outside the pool.

In the master’s program, I notice that I find it difficult to open up to people I don’t know well. I’m not used to that because of my swimming career. I therefore show my strengths rather than my weaknesses. A part of this program, however, is that you are taken out of your comfort zone—whether you like it or not. This is extremely valuable for my personal development as a coach and as a person.

In 2016, I started my own swimming school, USWIM. The most important thing in swimming (and in life) is that you have fun and I take that into account in my training sessions. I hope to teach the young talents that there is a time for serious things and also a time for fun, even if you want to become a champion. It would be great if I could use my experience to help young swimmers reach their potential. I hope that my knowledge, experience and the development of a unique coaching style can contribute to Dutch swimming, and that I can work together with new talents to realize their goals.


Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam uses a rich learning environment that fosters educational tools based on a student interaction model. We aim for a mix of students from sports and business sectors, which also enables students to share their unique experiences and learn from each other. Through ‘Cruyffian’ teaching methods the students will engage actively in creative challenges that require effort, commitment and intuitive thinking. Visit the web pages to find out more about these programs, which we deliver in English:

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