My association with Armadale Kelmscott Swimming Club began in the 1990’s when my children, (and I also), were members of the club. I became a club referee and then began to coach in the old 25m pool with the “Tadpoles” when my daughter, Catriona, started to swim. I progressed with coaching until I was the volunteer coach for club members who were unable to, or did not wish to, have professional coaching that the club also provided. I completed the basic coaching qualifications, completed my “Austswim” Learn to Swim qualifications and furthered my refereeing experience to Open Competition standard. I also kept swimming myself, training in the “adult” lane with Peter Jamieson while he was the club’s professional coach, competing in Masters events. Catriona and Alasdair continued to swim at the club, Alasdair with our beloved Alex Glasgow and Catriona with Peter. Catriona’s name appears on our honour boards of which I am very proud. I also became a participant in the Rottnest Channel Swim, swimming twice in a team made up of Armadale Kelmscott swimmers and another parent. When the team members decided not to swim again, I went solo and completed the swim in 2004.
In 2008, my children had grown up and I was fortunate enough to be offered a professional coaching position so bid farewell to the Armadale Kelmscott Club. I think it could be called a VERY late career change, but I felt strongly that I was good at coaching and I wanted to study and learn as much as I could. Being in a paid position enabled me to begin a Bachelor Degree in Sports Science at Murdoch University. I think the other students wondered what on earth a “mature age” student was doing there but I loved it. At the same time, I coached swimmers to National Age championships and had State Junior and Age champions. I graduated in 2013.
In 2011, I moved to be Senior Coach at Riverton and rebuilt the squad that had seen a large number of swimmers leave over a few years. I had State Junior and Age group champions and in May 2012 was approached by Jeremy McClure, a vision impaired swimmer, to ask if I would prepare him for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. This was a huge honour as this was to be Jeremy’s third Paralympic Games. Despite some opposition from management he joined the squad, providing huge inspiration for the young swimmers and making the final of the 100m Backstroke. I also started swim teaching with the education department again at Armadale after a few years break while I studied.
After two years, I transferred within the City of Canning, to work at the newly opened Cannington Leisureplex, a brand, new complex. Being run by the City of Canning meant that swimmers did not have to join a club to swim in the squads. Some did join the club and compete but the majority wanted to swim because they loved the sport but competing was not an option for a variety of reasons. There was a real mix of ambition.
In 2015, after a break from pure swimming to follow triathlon, Jeremy came back to ask if I would help him prepare for the 2016 Paralympic Selection trials for Rio de Janeiro. I accepted and in April 2016 at the National Championships, Jeremy set a World Record in the 50m backstroke in his classification and set a time that was in top three in the world at that time for 100m backstroke. He finished fifth in the final of 100m backstroke at Rio.
I have continued coaching, teaching and swimming and for the last two years I have watched the new pool complex at Armadale take shape. I am happy and excited to be coming “home” to Armadale as the Head Coach. I feel I have come in a full circle and I hope that I can fulfil expectations. I try to treat each swimmer individually and equally and I am concerned with their physical capabilities and mental attitude as well. I do expect commitment from swimmers and parents alike. Swimming for “fitness” doesn’t mean those swimmers do less work than competitive swimmers. Gaining fitness means placing a load onto the body and when the body has adapted to that load then it is time to add more. It is just as important for fitness swimmers to attend regularly as it is for the competition swimmers. I have a vision of a club full of happy, enthusiastic and brave swimmers, taking on every challenge with determination and joining in all our club activities, whether they are competitive or fitness swimmers.
I am looking forward to catching up with all my old friends and meeting new families and talking to all our members to find out what each person’s vision is for themselves and the club. See you at the pool!
Magic words at last!
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