As Swimming Canada looks back on another successful Olympic Games, it is important to look back at the support pathway, including the many coaches, who helped 26 swimmers develop into Olympians.
“The journey of every athlete on Swimming Canada’s successful Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games team started in their club programs, all across Canada. These athletes first learned to swim, transitioned into a club swimming program, then progressed through different training groups in each club as they learned how to race. It’s a journey with many people, especially coaches who influence a young swimmer along the way to the ultimate destination of the Olympic Games,” said High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson, Swimming Canada’s Team Leader at the Games.
Canada tied for fourth with six total medals in the pool (1 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze), matching its total from the Rio 2016 Olympics (1 gold, 1 silver, 4 bronze). In addition, the team delivered four fourth-place finishes all in Canadian records.
“This shows we were competitive at the Games from Day 1 to Day 9, and we come away with pride for the team’s accomplishments,” Atkinson said. “It’s all the more impressive given the impact of COVID-19 in Canada and all the various lockdowns that we navigated.”
The pool team staff had six coaches working directly with athletes (Vlastimil Cerny, Dave Johnson, Tom Johnson, Linda Kiefer, Ryan Mallette, and Ben Titley), while Mark Perry oversaw the open water swimmers.
Titley and Mallette, the head coach and associate head coach of the High Performance Centre – Ontario, placed 10 of their full-time swimmers on the team, who were instrumental in five of Canada’s medals. In addition, 100-m butterfly gold medallist Maggie Mac Neil trained with the group for periods throughout the pandemic, including following her return following the 2021 NCAA championships.
Meanwhile, the High Performance Centre – Vancouver placed four swimmers on the team, including two of Performance Coach Tom Johnson’s pool swimmers, and two of Head Coach Brad Dingey’s open water swimmers. Etobicoke Swimming Head Coach Rob Novak, a member of Swimming Canada’s Select Coaches Group for many years, also placed two of his club swimmers on the team.
Swimming Canada would like to officially acknowledge each swimmer’s first coach (who coached them to their first senior national championships or trials), previous coach (primary coach before their current coach), in addition to their current coach of record.
Atkinson provided a few examples of top performing swimmers who have been supported by multiple coaches along the way. Kylie Masse returned from Tokyo with three medals, including individual silver in both the 100-m and 200-m backstroke. Masse has earned at least one individual medal at every major event she has competed in since the 2015 Summer Universiade, for a total of 10.
“This is world-class reliability with eight of those medals being attained working with her previous coaches Byron MacDonald and Linda Kiefer. Her entire coaching chain, from her first coaches Andrei Semenov and Cord Kitson, to her current coaches Ben Titley and Ryan Mallette, should be proud of her accomplishments,” Atkinson said.
Mac Neil, meanwhile, is a product of London Aquatic Club, where she trained under Andrew Craven before going on to the University of Michigan and winning gold at the 2019 FINA World Championships. She then became Olympic champion supported by HPC-Ontario, joining Victor Davis as the only Canadians to ever hold the title of Olympic champion and world champion simultaneously.
“Maggie holds a rare title that serves to show the impact of coaching input in to her development,” Atkinson said.
Penny Oleksiak also established her place in history at the Games, winning three medals under the guidance of Titley (and Mallette) to bring her total to seven, most all-time of any Canadian Olympian.
“What an amazing achievement for a swimmer who started out at the Toronto Swim Club with Gary Nolden, and later progressed to swim with head coach Bill O’Toole,” Atkinson said. “HPC-Ontario Head Coach Ben Titley – as well as Associate Head Coach Ryan Mallette – deserve special mention for bringing out the best in outstanding performers such as Penny, Kylie and Maggie at the Olympic Games.”
Atkinson said the coaching pathway shows how critical club swimming is to the development of both swimmers and coaches in Canada.
“Swimming Canada will continue to recognize and support this by offering coach development programs and national development team program opportunities,” Atkinson said.
Of the 26 swimmers on the team, 37-year-old Brent Hayden’s career predated the NDTP, while Summer McIntosh skipped the junior program entirely to qualify for her first senior national team at 14. Of the remaining 24, 21 had previous experience on a junior national team at a world junior championships (pool or open water), and/or Pan Pacific Championships and/or Youth Olympic Games/Pan Am Youth Olympic Festival.
“A significant number of athletes on the Swimming Canada Olympic team have raced at national development team program events in their progression to the Olympic Games, showing the importance of these events in the pathway,” Atkinson said. “The support from the Government of Canada through Sport Canada, Own the Podium, and also the Canadian Olympic Committee, as well as Swimming Canada allows the development and team programs to be established and the coaching, management and science/medicine support to have an impact.”
The full list of 46 coaches is below:
|Full Name||Club Training Program||Current Coach Name||Previous Coach Name||First Coach Name|
|Javier Acevedo||Ajax||Andrew Miller||Jack Bauerle|
|Bailey Andison||Perth Stingrays||Ray Looze||Brian Schrader||Rod Agar|
|Katrina Bellio||ESWIM||Robert Novak||Endi Babi||Kevin Thorburn|
|Tessa Cieplucha||Markham Aquatics||Sean Baker||Matt Kredich||Sean Baker|
|Hau-Li Fan||HPC-Vancouver||Brad Dingey||Steve Price||Kelly Taitinger|
|Ruslan Gaziev||ESWIM||Rob Novak||Matt Bowe||Kevin Thorburn|
|Mary-Sophie Harvey||CAMO||Claude St-Jean||Tom Rushton||Yann Jacquier|
|Brent Hayden||HPC-Vancouver||Tom Johnson||Vince Mikuska||Vince Mikuska|
|Yuri Kisil||HPC-Ontario||Ben Titley||Tom Johnson||Dave Johnson|
|Finlay Knox||HPC-Ontario||Ben Titley||Todd Melton||Todd Melton|
|Joshua Liendo||HPC-Ontario||Ben Titley||Murray Drudge||Murray Drudge|
|Margaret Mac Neil||London Aquatic Club||Ben Titley||Richard Bishop||Andrew Craven|
|Kylie Masse||HPC-Ontario||Ben Titley||Byron MacDonald / Linda Kiefer||Andrei Semenov / Cord Kitson|
|Gabriel Mastromatteo||Kenora Swimming Sharks||Byron MacDonald / Linda Kiefer||Janet Hyslop||Bruce / Eddie Fisher, Janet Hyslop|
|Summer McIntosh||HPC-Ontario||Ben Titley||Kevin Thorburn||Kevin Thorburn|
|Penny Oleksiak||HPC-Ontario||Ben Titley||Bill O’Toole||Gary Nolden|
|Sydney Pickrem||HPC-Ontario||Ben Titley||Steve Bultman||Randy Reese|
|Cole Pratt||Cascade||Dave Johnson||Wendy Johnson||Ildi Deliu|
|Taylor Ruck||HPC-Ontario||Ben Titley||Greg Meehan||Kevin Zacher|
|Kayla Sanchez||HPC-Ontario||Ben Titley||Rob Novak||Ben Titley|
|Kate Sanderson||HPC-Vancouver||Brad Dingey||Mike Doane||Mike Doane|
|Katerine Savard||CAMO||Claude St-Jean||Marc-André Pelletier||Marc-André Pelletier|
|Kierra Smith||Kelowna Aquajets||Emil Dimitrov||Kelly Kremer||Takeo Inoki|
|Rebecca Smith||HPC-Ontario||Ben Titley||Byron MacDonald / Linda Kiefer||Mandi Smith|
|Markus Thormeyer||HPC-Vancouver||Tom Johnson||Ben Keast||Ben Keast|
|Kelsey Wog||Bisons de l’Université du Manitoba||Vlastimil Cerny||Craig McCormick||Craig McCormick|