Marta Belsh has been coaching for 20 years and says she learns something new about swimming every day.
That approach is part of the reason Belsh is one of 10 coaches chosen to this year’s Swimming Canada Select Coaches Group.
“It is an honour because I will be in the company of so many great coaches,” said Belsh, the 46-year-old head coach of the Fredericton Aquanauts Swim Team (FAST) and the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds.
The group includes coaches from seven provinces, and will include a trip to the American Swimming Coaches Association world clinic Sept. 4-8 in Dallas, Texas. The conference experience will be enriched by dedicated presentations from speakers invited by Swimming Canada. In addition, coaches will be presenting their annual training plans and weekly templates to the group. These presentations will include a discussion and feedback session with the coaches on their plans.
“It will be a great learning experience,” said Belsh, a former member of the Polish national junior swim team who competed in butterfly and individual medley events.
“We can all learn from our common experiences and challenges. There are things to learn about new strokes, new techniques, new training methods and ways to efficiently do all the administrative work that goes with coaching.”
This is the fifth edition of the Select Coaches Group, an annual professional development program for developing high performance coaches in Canada. The program is an integral part of Swimming Canada’s mission to become one of the world’s leading swimming nations.
Iain McDonald, Swimming Canada’s senior manager NextGen High Performance Pathway, said the Select Coaches Groups have been a valuable professional development program for high performance coaches in Canada.
“Each year,” McDonald explained, “this program has evolved and led to a positive learning environment that has generated great discussion and collaboration amongst the selected coaches.
“High performance coach development has been a key strategic focus for us and we have been able to provide professional development opportunities to over 80 coaches across the country since 2014,” he said.
“We are thankful to all of our funding partners: Own The Podium, Sport Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee. Without their contributions to our program, we would not be in a position to offer these types of opportunities to our coaches.”
“Coach development is a critical factor for the future success of Canadian swimming at the international level and this program will continue to play its part in developing coaches, as it has over the last 6 years,’ said John Atkinson, Swimming Canada’s High Performance Director and National Coach said. “As well as Iain and myself, we will also have our Swimming Canada national coaches Martyn Wilby, Ken McKinnon and Mark Perry attend to work with the group.
Belsh is looking forward to meeting coaches from all over North America as they learn from each other in an encouraging setting.
“Our interactions will reveal common issues, but different perspectives,” said Belsh, who has worked with FAST for 11 years.
“The sport is constantly changing and techniques are constantly changing so when we exchange ideas, we will all benefit. I’m looking forward to the experience.”
Other coaches selected to attend the clinic are: Jason Allen (GO Kingfish of Ottawa), Marie Bergeron (Torpille of Repentgny, Que.), Jeremy Bruggeman (Neptune Natation of Saint-Jerome, Que.), Alex Dawson (Grande Prairie, Alta. Piranhas), Steven Hitchings (Saskatoon Goldfins), Tina Hoeben (KISU Swimming of Penticton, B.C.), Rob Novak (Manta of Winnipeg), Melanie Melanson (Codiac Vikings of Moncton, N.B.) and Abderrahmane Tissira (Regina).