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Tremblay is Swimming Canada’s 2023 junior coach of the year

News –

By Rita Mingo

As a swim coach for nearly 40 years, Marc Tremblay has always wanted to help his pupils achieve their goals but he knows better than most that it’s a two-way street.

“The workout is there and you help them with the practice and try to reach the next level,” he explained. “But you also want them to take ownership in their swimming. I’m there to guide them. That’s what we try to do. It’s about swimming but it’s also to make them better people by learning to work toward goals that they set. You help them to navigate to get to those goals and put in priorities that align with the goals you want to achieve.”

Tremblay, head coach of the Kelowna Aquajets, is Swimming Canada’s 2023 junior coach of the year.

“It’s nice to see that the work we do with the kids is recognized by the national office,” he said.

Tremblay’s coaching resume includes stints with the Vernon Kokanees, the Edmonton Keyano and the University of Alberta varsity squads. From 2011-21, he was in charge of Calgary’s Cascade Swim Club age group program and is now in his third season with the Aquajets.

One of his prized pupils is Alexanne Lepage, now a member of the University of Calgary swim team, who has taken his lessons to heart. Lepage stunned the world by copping a pair of gold medals this past September at the World Aquatics Junior Championships in Israel – in the women’s 100-m and 200-m breaststroke.

“Alexanne is a very motivated person,” Tremblay said. “When she came over to us in May, June last year (from the Vernon swim club) she wanted to keep moving forward. We had a relationship with the club in Vernon where the kids would come once a month or once every six weeks to have training with our kids on Saturday morning. Over the last two years, we collaborated that way so I saw her grow. She always came to workouts prepared, pushed herself and pushed her teammates.

“Definitely when she was here, she sure pushed everybody; she was a great mentor and great leader to the younger kids and the girls on the squad. She always gives 100 per cent of herself. She’s a great kid to coach and have around on the team because she elevates people around her.”

Lepage swam a national age group record (2:24.70) in the 200 and another a personal best in the 100 (1:06.58). She added a silver medal in the 4×100-m medley relay to her world juniors haul.

“She did a bit better than I thought, actually,” Tremblay said. “We don’t talk about winning medals; we talk about times, what we think you can get. Before she left with the national team, I talked with the coaches that were going to take care of her and I said I thought she could get to these times, like 1:07 in the 100 breast; she did 1:06 which is, wow, better than I thought. And in the 200 breast, I told the coaches, well, I think she can get around 2:27, 2:28 and she ended up going way faster. That was very good. I can see it because I saw her in practice … but she went beyond. She really elevated her game at that competition that’s for sure.”

Tremblay has international coaching experience as well, having been part of the staff at both the 1997 and 2002 Pan Pacific Championships.

“As a coach, of course I like to coach at the international level but that doesn’t happen without the club system, having success at the club level,” he pointed out. “I’m happy coaching in the club system. Seeing a kid like (Lepage) go to the international level and win, this is great. I want to keep on doing that.

“What gives me pleasure is seeing the kids moving forward and realize that it’s within their control.”