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Next Wave group a new twist on coach development

News –

Swimming Canada has launched an exciting new coach development program, the Next Wave Coaches Group.

Swimming Canada Distance/Open Water Coach Mark Perry, National Development Coach Ken McKinnon and National Coach, Programming and Development, Martin Gingras will guide a group of six hand-picked coaches with a twist on previous coach development initiatives.

The six coaches are: Salim Laoubi (Natation Gatineau, Quebec), Endi Babi (Barrie Trojans, Ontario), Sean Baker (Markham Aquatic Club, Ontario), Mandy Bell (High Performance Centre – Vancouver, B.C.), Scott Faithfull (Nepean Kanata Barracudas, Ontario) & Alex Dawson (Grande Prairie Piranhas, Alberta).

More than ever before, this bespoke program will be designed by the participants as they go.

“These are coaches leading successful strong programs who are receptive to change and have demonstrated the desire to learn,” Perry said. “The group will collaboratively design ways to monitor and measure impact and progress. This is them working together collaboratively to come up with a program that’s going to help them.”

Specifically, they’re being challenged to focus on developing aerobic content by discussing challenges and solutions and exchanging ideas. The group will design workouts together, track the results of the best swimmers, record and compare relevant variables. They also have access to Canadian Sport Institute Pacific Performance Scientist Coach Tom Vandenbogaerde.

Babi said the group already has a healthy collaboration going, with a touch of competition. For example, coaches may share workouts their athletes have performed via a group chat.

“It just keeps us all engaged and promotes a bit of a sense of urgency, ‘I’m doing this today, what are you doing?’ ” said the third-year head coach, who appreciates being able to draw on the experiences of others in the group.

“It’s a more holistic way to talk about things. My goal is always to try to get a little better and I’m a huge scavenger in that respect. I try to see what other programs are doing and how I can adapt that to my own,” said Babi, 35.

He’s also trying to pass along what he’s learning to other coaches in his program.

“If we expect athletes to do this much volume at age 15, how can we get them ready at age 10 or 11, all the way through so by the time they’re physiologically ready to put in some high level work they’ve had the background and experience?” he says.

The group will also have opportunities to attend Swimming Canada camps, and in November will have the chance to discuss their philosophies and methods with German National Open Water Coach Bernd Berkhahn and in February they will have the chance to do the same with South African coach Rocco Meiring.

“They’ve worked in different countries and come at things from different ways. They may come up with the same solution but the way they get there isn’t the same so the coaches will benefit from getting two people coming at them from different perspectives looking at things in different ways,” Perry said.

As Swimming Canada works towards its mission of being amongst the world leading swimming nations, one strategic aim is to enhance the development of a sustainable stream of world leading High Performance Coaches. To that end, Swimming Canada has developed a number of professional development programs that have provided opportunities to more than 200 coaches in Canada since 2014.

Last year 64 coaches had the opportunity for professional development through a series of virtual sessions either through the Select or Advanced Coaches Group.

“An area Swimming Canada sees as critical to the continued development of our sport is the education opportunities available for coaches. The Next Wave group is a great example of opportunities for coaches and specifically addressing aerobic development of swimmers which is a very important building block for all athletes,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson. “Coaching is critical for Swimming Canada, which is why we continue to invest heavily in coach development. Coaches have been key to our success at the last two Olympic Games and will continue to be towards Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.”