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Coaching community stays connected through virtual professional development opportunities

News –

Over the past five months there has been a huge increase in virtual professional development opportunities for the Canadian coaching community. With the cancellation of competitions and the shutdown and re-opening of pools due to the global pandemic, Swimming Canada and its partners have used this time to continue educating coaches and providing more opportunities to learn online.

Hundreds of coaches have accessed the Swimming Canada Learning Management System (LMS) to further their coaching education. They have used the system to complete eLearning modules, pre-course workbooks and to register for Swimming Canada NCCP courses. These courses include the Community Coach, Swimming 101, Swimming 201, and Swimming 301 programs. To date, more than 300 coaches have taken part in the online delivery of the NCCP courses.

“The Learning Management System (LMS) has become a great resource hub for coach and officials training and development,” said Senior Manager, Domestic Operations, Suzanne Paulins. “All coaches taking part in NCCP training are using the LMS and the Domestic Operations/Sport Development Team have been great in quickly making changes and improvements to provide a better user experience over the last several months.”

Swimming Canada’s High Performance Olympic and Paralympic programs have also turned their attention to virtual opportunities to continue working on coach development, something that has been a big focus over the past eight years. The programs put on a series of calls and presentations for approximately 300 coaches touching a range of different topics.

“Over the last two quads we have done a tremendous amount of work on coach development in Canada. This includes workshops for select coaches, female coach development, coach visitations to other training programs and attending conferences.” said High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson. “All these opportunities have been possible with great support from Swimming Canada, Own the Podium and the Coaching Enhancement Program, as well as other partners.”

The Olympic program conducted eight Fireside Chats reaching a total of 140 coaches including two Select Coaches Groups. These chats were led by Senior Coach for the Olympic program, Martyn Wilby, National Development Coach, Ken McKinnon, and Distance and Open Water Coach, Mark Perry. The topics included return to swimming/training, characteristics of a first year senior national athlete, safe swimming outdoors, and re-imaging swimming.

The Paralympic program put on seven online presentations that had an average of 25 coaches per sessions. These presentations were delivered by Senior Coach for the Paralympic program, Vince Mikuska, Nextgen and Pathways Paralympic Coach, Michel Bérubé, Para Swimming Performance Pathway Coach and National Classification Lead, Janet Dunn, High Performance Centre- Quebec Head Coach, Mike Thompson, and Assistant Coach, Mike Edey. The topics included a return to swimming panel, para swimming FAQS and para swimming overviews and training details.

“While the pandemic impacted face-to-face opportunities the format of mass video calls became a great way for coach development to continue,” said Atkinson. “Our Swimming Canada coaches from both the Olympic and Paralympic programs, and staff have done a great job at engaging with our coaches from across Canada. This has been fantastic, and we will continue to look at how we develop coaches as we move through the rest of 2020 and into 2021, and beyond.”

The provincial sections and the Canadian Swimming Coaches Association (CSCA) also conducted multiple professional development sessions for the coaching community, with experts in the field touching on a variety of subjects including coaching the four strokes, coaching individual medley, starts and turns, mental health, club programming, open water swimming, and returning to swimming, to name a few.

The CSCA launched an online e-learning series which featured almost 1,700 coaches taking part in 30 live sessions. Each session has been recorded and is available in the CSCA Video Library for all members to access anytime. In addition, the CSCA recorded five episodes of ‘1 Thing’ coach interviews and six episodes of its Coaches in the Square series. All three of these initiatives will continue in the fall with weekly online e-learning presentations taking place every Thursday at 1 p.m. ET.

The CSCA Video Library also contains presentations from the Team Aquatic Supplies CSCA National Swim Coaches Conference in 2010, 2014 and 2016 and from the Team Aquatic Supplies BC Swim Coaches Conference in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Additionally, Swimming Canada hosted a series of five webinars presented to provincial technical staff and executive directors to share the Appropriate Athlete Development Pathway and the four pillars of the Athlete Development Matrix. This work is an evolution of the Long Term Athlete Development Pathway that was introduced in 2008. The matrix includes four key areas of focus in athlete development: physical capacity, technical/tactical/strategic skills, life skills and mental skills. The overarching document will be shared with the swimming community through the 2020-2021 swim season.

“The level of collaboration with our partners over the past five months has allowed the Domestic Operation/Sport Development Team to deliver on several initiatives including: online NCCP training, the Athlete Development Matrix sessions, and the development of new eLearning content,” said Paulins. “The pace of work has been at a high level and the team has responded.”

The Learning Management System (LMS) and other virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Go-To Meetings, and Adobe Connect have helped the community stay connected. Swimming Canada and its partners have worked hard to provide professional development opportunities over the past few months and will continue to work on providing more in the future.