OTTAWA – Five people have been named to Swimming Canada’s inaugural Select Coaches Group program aimed at developing the country’s next generation of elite coaches.
Martin Gingras of Montreal’s Pointe-Claire Swim Club, Patrick Paradis of the CHENA Club in North Vancouver, Matt Bell of Ajax (Ont.) Swimming, Ben Keast of the Winskill Dolphins Club in Tsawwassen, B.C., and Mandi Smith of the Red Deer (Alta.
‘’We based our selections on coaches who were passionate and a 100 percent dedicated to the coaching profession,’’ said Ken McKinnon, Swimming Canada’s national development coach. “Our goal is to provide up-to-date, modern, evidence-based, successful practices that will challenge our younger coaches and help them coach at a higher level immediately.’’
Swimming Canada issued a call for applications in July, from which 14 coaches from across the country applied. McKinnon and Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson interviewed applicants at last month’s Canadian Swimming Congress. This group was selected to be the first in an annual initiative that aims to enhance the development of a sustainable stream of world-leading high performance coaches.
“One of the strategies Swimming Canada’s High Performance program has in place is to develop coaches,” Atkinson said. “This program will see that attained.”
The coaches will attend a Mentor Coach Program workshop Dec. 15-17 in Victoria which will feature Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Victoria head coach Randy Bennett, strength and conditioning expert Eugene Liang, integrated support team director Dr. Allan Wrigley, and two-time Olympic medallist Ryan Cochrane.
Gingras has developed the Pointe-Claire club into one of the powerhouses in Canada. It placed in the top-three in the team standings at both the nationals and age group nationals this summer and three of its swimmers – Matthew Ackman, Alyson Ackman and Samantha Cheverton- were on the senior or junior international teams.
Paradis completed his fourth year at CHENA and led his troops to its first ever provincial title. He has coached a number of swimmers to international events such as the FINA World Junior Championships and the Junior Pan Pacific Championships.
Bell enjoyed a super season with his young squad in 2014 with six Ajax club swimmers collecting national age group titles and 11 age group national records lowered by his swimmers including five by Danica Huizinga and four by Kayla Sanchez. Huizinga competed at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships and was joined by teammate Javier Acevedo at the Youth Olympic Games.
Keast was on the Canadian youth team coaching staff at the Australian Age Group Championships held in Sydney this past winter and has led his swimmers to nine age group records and 24 provincial marks since joining the club in 2010. His charges include Junior Pan Pacs standout Markus Thormeyer.
Smith has been at the helm at the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club since 2009 and developed a solid age group squad in addition to heading Alberta teams to international events.
The Select Coaches Group program is part of Swimming Canada’s mission to be amongst the world leading swimming nations by 2020.