Those 4 summers as Head Coach went by so fast! It feels like yesterday when I was walking on deck as head coach for my first day. I was so nervous and I just wanted to make the swimming experience for these kids as good as I remembered it growing up. Summer swimming in Lethbridge seemed to have lost relevance. The once Provincial power-house was finishing way off the podium at the provincial stage and the amount of older (15-17) swimmers in the club had plummeted.
My main mission over my last four years was to make swimming a fun place for these kids to come to everyday. I wanted swimming to be something that these kids would go home and talk about every night, and look forward for big events. Along with the help of an amazing coaching staff and supportive board, I am glad to say that we achieved this goal! Over the past 4 years we’ve increased average meet attendance at each meet, we’ve increased our members number from 116 (2015) to 171 (2019), we’ve gone on a region-f winning streak of 39-meets spanning 4 and a half seasons, doubled our ASSA Provincials attendance, improved our Provincial ranking from 7th (2015) to 2nd (2018 and 2019), kept swimmers in the club to an older age pushing us to create a second senior group, and much more. In my first year as Head coach, the oldest swimmer in my senior group was 15 years old. This year, my senior group included 16 swimmers who were aged 15&O. Of those 16 swimmers, 8 of them either graduated high-school or aged-out of ASSA this summer. This senior group retention stat is one of the things that I am proudest of during my time as Head Coach. I want to give a special thanks to each and every member of my Tier I group who kept coming back. I loved coaching you guys so much and I loved seeing you grow and mature. I hope many of you will stick with swimming and continue on to the next level.
My favourite moments have always been watching best time after best time at Regionals and Provincials. In all the meets I have both coached and competed at, the atmosphere at these two meets are almost unbeatable. Year-after-year, Orcas swimmers step up and create some amazing memories at these meets. I don’t know what will ever compare to that split second of coach-to-swimmer eye contact that happens immediately following a race.
(Photo Credit: Shannon Bos)
I cannot thank the board enough for all of their support over the past 4 summers. Carly Ginther puts so much time and effort in behind the scenes and this club would not function as smoothly as it does without her. I have also had to pleasure to work with members such as Kristy Togo, Drew Ginther, Chantelle Smith, Dave Lutterotti, Jason Pilsner, Julie Sisson, Shauna Armstrong, Sue Weighill, Keith Lundquist, Jen Vanden Elzen, Curtis Polec, Alanna Odorski, Kathy Kremenick, Sheldon Tymko, and so many more. For those who haven’t worked on the board, but volunteered at meets, you are also amazing! We need volunteers of all sorts of capacities for meets and seasons to be run successfully. I have seen a steady increase in parent volunteers from our club and hope that continues!
To the coaches I’ve had the honour to work with, thank you so much! I’ve loved every summer working alongside you guys! Coach Keeley and I are the only two that have coached all four years and she’s become invaluable to the club. She’s slowly taken over many administrative roles and have done them far better than I could ever imagine. Combine all the efforts we’ve put in with all the other coaches’ efforts (Josh, Steve, Caileigh, Aaron, Owen, Soleil, Kara, Taylor, Ardelle and Jenn) and we have really created something to be proud of.
Mentorship is something that cannot be overvalued. I would also like to thank Kent Aitchison. For those who don’t know Kent, he was one of my head coaches as I swam through the program. He was my role model and instilled a sense of fun and passion in the sport that would inspire my University and coaching careers in the sport of swimming. When I first started coaching, I would go through my archives to find all of his old emails. He was so organized and a real master of the keyboard. A large part of my success is due to Kent. He has continued to mentor me throughout my 4-years. He regularly stays in contact and also returns to Lethbridge to run Summit Swim Camps and mentor us coaches.
My parents obviously also deserve a huge thank you. They put me in swim lessons and swim club at a very early age as they did not want me to drown at a birthday party. Little did they know I would find one of my life’s greatest passions out of it. Thanks for having my safety at heart, driving me to countless practices and meets, and letting my love for the sport develop naturally.
I also want to thank all of the other families in Region F. When you’ve been swimming for a couple years, you start recognizing regular faces on deck. People such as John Dozeman, Morgan Dozeman, Nanette Dupont, Steve Mowers, Keith Hopkins, Lyle Douglas, Lisa Sygutek, JoAnna Sutter, and so many more have been around volunteering and running these meets for years. Without your continued support, we wouldn’t have a place to make such amazing memories.
I’ve loved every minute of coaching this club. Summer Swimming, either swimming or coaching, has been a main focus of mine every summer since I was 6 years old (2002-2019). I will always cherish the opportunity I was given to swim through the program and then have 5 years of coaching the club. Thank you so much for reading. I’m sorry if I missed anyone in these thank you’s. There has honestly been so amazing people who have made this an amazing ride. The Orcas are in great hands and I cannot wait to see what the team can achieve in the coming years.