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Recipients announced for Para Swimming CanAm Female Coach Development Scholarship

News –

Thanks to a recently introduced Swimming Canada program, four female coaches will soon benefit from a unique international development opportunity.

As part of its Para Swimming CanAm Female Coach Development Program, Swimming Canada is offering female coaches full scholarships to attend the 2021 CanAm International Swim Meet for the purpose of growing knowledge of Paralympic swimming.

The initiative aims to provide developing female coaches with an introductory experience at an international swimming event.

“This is a program to increase awareness of and exposure to international Para swimming for developing female coaches,” said Wayne Lomas, Swimming Canada’s Associate High Performance Director and National Para Swimming Coach. “We want female coaches who aspire to work with high performance swimmers to gain skills, experience and knowledge of racing at a higher level.”

Haley Bennett of Parksville, B.C., Jy Lawrence of White Rock, B.C., Sarah MacDonald of Thompson, Man., and Montreal’s Nadine Rolland are the scholarship recipients who will head to Greensboro, North Carolina from Dec. 14-21. The CanAm meet is set for Dec. 17-19.

Bennett is head coach of the Ravensong Aquatic Club in Qualicum Beach, B.C., where she has coached and supported Para swimmers alongside their Olympic counterparts. She is also an integrated support team member for the High Performance Centre – Quebec in Montreal.

In 2019, she prepared her brother, Tokyo 2020 Paralympian Nicholas Bennett, for the Canadian Swimming Trials and the Lima Parapan American Games, where he won three gold medals and one silver.

“I’m very excited to attend the CanAm meet,” said Bennett. “Having the opportunity to learn from Mentor Coach Janet Dunn and others at an international meet will be extremely valuable. Having total support from Swimming Canada means the world to me.”

Lawrence, who has 14 years of coaching experience, is head coach of the Pacific Sea Wolves Swim Club, where she has been working with Para swimmer Sebastian Massabie, who is level 2 classified and is set to compete at the Western Canadian Championships and the CanAm meet in North Carolina.

In both 2015-2016 and 2017-2018, Lawrence was named development coach of the year by Swim BC.

“I’m always looking for opportunities to learn and gain experience as a coach, and I’m grateful for the support and the recognition from Swimming Canada,” Lawrence said. “I am looking forward to learning as much as possible during this opportunity and then finding ways to apply this education moving forward.”

MacDonald, who has been coaching since 2004, is an age group coach at the Guelph Marlin Aquatic Club, where she is developing and delivering training plans to regional and provincial-level athletes age 15 and up.

She is the coach of record for Canadian record-holding Para swimmer Jordan Tucker, and has recently been selected as an apprentice coach for Team Ontario for a Para classification and competition in Saskatoon.

“I’m honoured to have been selected for this opportunity,” said MacDonald. “I’m new to Para swimming, having just started coaching Jordan in September, so it’s been a whirlwind getting up to speed on all the fine details of the sport. It’s been eye-opening to say the least, and I’m looking forward to learning from Canada’s best in North Carolina.”

Rolland, an NCCP Level 3 coach, has been at the helm of Les Loutres swim club in Granby, Que., since 2007. Since 2015, when the club opened a Para swimming stream, the Sydney 2000 Olympian has been working with Para swimmers in various classes from S6 to S14.

“I wish to thank Swimming Canada for the opportunity to deepen my knowledge of Para swimming,” said Rolland. “My experience as a swimmer at the international level and my many years as a coach will be assets in order to integrate the specific concepts of Para swimming and have the community benefit from it.”

Lomas points out the Para Swimming CanAm Female Coach Development Program, under the direction of eight-time Paralympic coach Janet Dunn, is the first of a commitment that Swimming Canada has made to find and create opportunities for female coaches.

“Personally, I recognize and take very seriously my responsibility to use my position to try and address what is a significant inequity in our system.

“A mentor relationship is about passing on ideas, tips and tricks to fast-track the journey, and under Janet’s guidance, I know that each of the four coaches we are supporting for this event will come back with much more knowledge and plenty of tips to help them navigate the system and support their swimmers of today and tomorrow.”

Dunn, a highly experienced Swimming Canada coach, also sees the program as an opportunity to move high performance swimming forward.

“Swimming, as one of the few sports that doubles as a life skill, aims to be an inclusive opportunity for all. Our sport isn’t above the structural biases that hamper all of our society but efforts like this one aim to address factors we can control.

“We have excellent participation and representation from both Canadian men and women at all levels of our sport but very few women in high performance coaching roles. This effort is a small part of a larger desire to ensure that swimming, and sport, radiate the values we aspire to as Canadians and do not languish as an artefact of the past.”