News & Articles

Leadership assignments showcase coaching depth

Swimming Canada has named leadership teams for this summer’s major international meets, which include appointments from the organization’s high performance staff, as well as from across the Canadian coaching spectrum.

Martyn Wilby and Mark Perry, both of whom joined Swimming Canada earlier this year, will assume head coach roles for the FINA World Championships July 15-30 in Budapest, Hungary, as well as the staging camp in Ostia, Italy. Wilby, as Senior Coach, Olympic Program, will be Head Coach of his first Canadian national team in the pool, a role he has held for Barbados and Malaysia in the past.

“I’m looking forward to my first international competition with Team Canada,” said Wilby, whose distinguished career includes 19 years at the University of Florida, where he worked alongside 2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s Head Coach Gregg Troy.

Wilby’s resume includes coaching world-record holder Gemma Spofforth, and his swimmers have won Olympic medals at every Games since Sydney 2000.

“From previous years as a coach looking at the Canadian program, I have seen a formula that works and the team is comfortable with this. I see that my job is not to change this but help enhance it,” Wilby said. “I have spent a lot of time talking with High Performance Centre – Ontario Head Coach Ben Titley, and High Performance Centre – Victoria Head Coach Ryan Mallette, both of whom are important parts of our coaching staff and worked in national team head coaching roles in 2016. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to continue to build the Canadian swim program with them, alongside Linda Kiefer, Claude St-Jean and Tom Johnson, who are the other team coaches for the program this summer.”

Meanwhile Open Water/Distance Coach Perry will serve as Head Coach – Open Water. Perry has been tasked with overhauling and professionalizing the entire open water program and team structure. He has already led teams at a number of competitions including U.S. Nationals and the recent UANA Open Water Championships.

“Mark has taken the open water team to a new level of professionalism equivalent to any team’s approach,” said High Performance Director John Atkinson, who will reprise his role as Team Leader.

During his time as Provincial Mentor Coach for Swim Alberta, he also served as Lead Open Water Coach for the senior national team at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games and the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

“I’m looking forward to consolidating on the start we made in 2015 in terms of trying to professionalize the team,” Perry said. “My goal has always been to be the best, most organized team in open water swimming. That’s still the goal, we’re on our way to doing that and we’ve still got a way to go.”

“Both Martyn and Mark will continue the great work that’s been done on Canadian swim teams over the last quad,” Atkinson said. “We are all completely aligned in terms of our purposes and our objectives of continual improvements. I look forward to seeing them both work in this capacity as head coaches through the summer.”

Later in the summer, Swimming Canada Senior Manager, NextGen High Performance Pathway Iain McDonald will take on the role of Team Leader at the FISU Summer Universiade in Taipei from Aug. 20-27.

McDonald, an experienced coach who has held various roles since joining the organization in 2012, was Team Leader for the 2015 FINA World Junior Championships, and Assistant Team Leader for the 2016 FINA World Championships (25m). He was also part of the staff for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, serving in an off-site team support role.

Joining him at those world university games will be University of Manitoba Head Coach Vlastimil Cerny, who will serve as Head Coach.

“Iain’s outstanding organizational skills will provide strong team leadership and support to Head Coach Vlastimil Cerny. The opportunity for a Canadian university coach to act in the role as Head Coach at the FISU Games shows how closely we at Swimming Canada are working with the U Sports programs,” Atkinson said.

“We value the contribution that U Sports can make to the development of high performance swimming in Canada. Exposing U Sport coaches to international swimming will further enhance this connection,” McDonald added. “This is a great competition to help further develop athletes for our senior national team. It’s turned into a very high-level international competition within a multi-sport games that has many of the top swimmers around the world. We’re able to use it to run through the protocols that are normally used for our senior national teams in a Games environment in Asia, which is good preparation for many of the upcoming championships including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Overlapping the FISU Games will be the FINA World Junior Championships in Indianapolis from Aug. 23-28.

Swimming Canada’s National Development Team Coach Ken McKinnon will serve as Team Leader, while Victoria NextGen Head Coach Brad Dingey takes on the Head Coach role.

“The World Junior Championships have proven to be a great starting point in many athletes’ international careers,” said Atkinson, pointing to the multi-medal performances in 2015 by Penny Oleksiak and Taylor Ruck, who went on to win Olympic medals the following year.

“Ken McKinnon will continue to lead this team as he has done previously. Brad comes into this position with his experience on the national team staff at the 2016 Pan Pacific Championships, and with his own athletes having performed exceptionally well at the Canadian Swimming Trials in April,” Atkinson said.

“The recent successes of Brad’s NextGen program swimmers come as no surprise to those who have worked with him,” McKinnon added. “He is a consummate professional in whatever coaching role he’s in on any team. I’m looking forward to working with him and supporting him and his staff this summer in Indianapolis.”