HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
Day after day, dedicated athletes learn the elements of how to run longer, jump higher, lift heavier weights or swim faster. It’s no different for their coaches, who design the detailed programs.
“Education is the basis for us,” Greater Ottawa Kingfish Swim Club head coach Jason Allen said in a recent interview. “We must keep learning. What we did five to 10 years ago won’t work any more.”
Allen, who has been a professional swimming head coach for the past 26 years, added a new information source to his knowledge bank, when he was promoted to a new level in Swimming Canada’s coach development group program.
The Ottawa-based national sport governing body for swimming selected 38 coaches to the Select Coaches Group and Female Coaches Group and created a new Advanced Coaches Group for another 10, which includes Allen.
“I’m pretty flattered. Swimming Canada is doing a great job identifying coaches,” Allen added. “They bring in leadership people to talk to us. I feel privileged.”
The first session was Wednesday with well-respected British Olympic coach Russ Barber.
The Select Coaches Group was established in 2014 and the Female Coaches Group started four years later. The Advanced Coaches Group is comprised of coaches who have previously worked with Swimming Canada and were in the Select group.
“In identifying coaches, we considered those with an open mind, willingness to listen to diverse opinions, consider change, learn and share with others,” said Swimming Canada’s Iain McDonald, associate high performance director, Olympic program.
John Atkinson, who is Swimming Canada’s high performance director and national coach, said the groups are important for the future of coaching and are “a targeted approach to development.”
“We are looking to work with coaches who understand situations, work in a positive way with partners and then make any situation work for them and use that in developing their athletes and clubs,” he said.
During the next year, there will be joint group sessions as well as specific group meetings. Virtual sessions will be led by Canadian and international presenters with the aim of developing better coaches and ultimately faster swimmers.
Allen was a member of the Select Coaches Group for the past three years. He believes Swimming Canada’s initiative will allow Canada to develop highly skilled coaches for all aspects of national and international swimming.
“They want us to think differently and not just domestically; try to get us thinking outside the box,” he said. “Education is the key to success. The more info I get, the more I can pass onto the swimmers.”
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.