OTTAWA – Ryan Mallette will be at the helm as head coach when Canada welcomes the world to Windsor, Ont., for the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in December.
Mallette, head coach of the Swimming Canada High Performance Centre – Victoria, will take on the top role after serving as a team coach for Canada’s successful Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The 36-year-old has been on the senior national team staff for every major meet since 2014, and this will be his first head coaching assignment. Canada will send a 33-swimmer team to the six-day championships, which run from Dec. 6-11.
“To be the head coach in Canada for an international meet with one of our biggest Canadian teams of all time, I consider it a huge honour,” Mallette said. “It’s something that I’m really looking forward to and I’m excited to do it on home soil.”
Mallette’s swimmer Hilary Caldwell took Olympic bronze in the women’s 200-m backstroke, one of six medals for Canada in Rio. Meanwhile, HPC-VIC swimmer Ryan Cochrane made his third straight Olympic final in the 1,500-m freestyle. Mallette’s coaching assignments in Rio also included individual finalist Sydney Pickrem and relay medallists Taylor Ruck and Katerine Savard. The Montreal native coached Cochrane to two medals at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia, and two golds at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, where Caldwell also won a gold.
“We’re trying to have athletes come on, expect to progress and then do it,” Mallette said. “We’re trying to normalize success and I think we’ve done a really good job of that at the Olympics. We talked about how no one was overwhelmed. For everyone to come in and succeed was normal and that’s what we want to continue forward into the next quad.”
Cochrane won Canada’s only medal – a bronze in the 1,500 – at the 2014 event in Doha, Qatar. While Cochrane won’t be competing, excitement will be high as Caldwell and fellow individual medallists Penny Oleksiak and Kylie Masse return to international competition on home soil. The full team list is posted HERE. (https://swimming.ca/en/
Four different people have held head coach roles over the past two years. Mallette will be supported by an outstanding coaching group that also includes Olympic Head Coach Ben Titley, 2015 World Championships Head Coaches Tom Johnson and Claude St. Jean, Rio 2016 team coaches Linda Kiefer and Kevin Thorburn, as well as Mike Blondal (University of Calgary) and Peter Schori (University of Lethbridge).
“It’s an experienced staff and we are looking forward to the racing,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director John Atkinson. “This is the start of our four-year road to Tokyo 2020. I will be working closely with Ryan to continue to build our team culture of continual improvement that was established in the years building into Rio.”
Mallette attributes Canada’s recent success in part to a collaborative attitude that sees all staff members buy in, regardless of official role or title. He expects that to continue in Windsor.
“I think I’m going to continue a lot of the things that we’ve done successfully on these teams. The key to our success is that we tend to do the same thing at every single meet,” Mallette said. “We’re all part of a team and we all represent Canada. I need to enable the coaches to do what they need to do in order to succeed. I think everyone comes in ready to play their part and we’re all very clear what those roles are.”