December 19th, 2014

To see all of the 2014 Swammy Award winners, presented by TYR, click here.

2014 HONOUREE: TOM JOHNSON

These past few seasons Canadian swimming has seen a definite rise in talent starting with their age-group stars beginning to perform extremely well at Junior International competitions. Young athletes in the CIS as well have shown success contributed partially to work done by some of the brilliant coaches that scan those horizons. Many athletes have also been paired with the High Performance Centres located across the country where some of Canada’s best train.

With increases in performance and what seems like an influence of world-class coaching beginning to rise in Canada, it wasn’t easy to narrow down the list of viable options for the 2014 Swammy award for the Canadian Coach of the Year; however we settled on Tom Johnson as the proper decision.

Johnson has been one of the top coaches in Canada for a long time now, bringing excellence to the University of British Columbia for many years before leading the High Performance Centre Vancouver.

At HPC Vancouver Johnson works with some of the best young Canadian athletes including Coleman Allen, Luke Reilly, and Erika Seltrenreich-Hodgson. All three of those swimmers are also competitors for Steve Price’s UBC Thunderbirds but train with HPC Vancouver.

Reilly and Seltenreich-Hodgson saw a huge improvement last season which put them on the map for international competition. Reilly dropped a very quick 4:15-high 400m IM at Canadian trials in April, and backed up that performance with a 4:18 at the Commonwealth Games to make the final where he ultimately finished seventh in 4:19.72. That year was truly a breakout year for Reilly making him a major player in the IMs in Canada.

Seltenreich-Hodgson also swims the individual medleys and had a great freshman season at UBC where she won a CIS title in the 400m IM. She qualified for the 2013 Worlds team last year, but this year saw the difference between her making the team and being extremely competitive. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games she swam a 4:36.88 400m IM to come fourth overall. Not only was the placement impressive, but it showed her improvement overall in international competition as she was a 4:46 at World last season.

Johnson also worked with Coleman Allen, amongst other UBC swimming stars, who made the semi-finals in the 100m fly at Commonwealths. He also came 12th overall at Pan Pacs qualifying for the B-final after the morning prelims.

What makes Johnson the Canadian coach of the year is his ability to turn Canada’s best swimmers into world-class swimmers, a job that is of highest importance in Canada right now. Canada is slowly making earning more and more success as the year’s go by in the sport, and there’s a huge surge of growth in the nation. With age-group records dropping constantly, and the average age of the national team being so young, one of the main focuses as transitioning Canadian swimmers into top-level international competitors to boost international results.

Johnson has clearly done that this year as his swimmers have seen massive improvements. With more coaches focusing on international standards rather than just ones set by Canadian athletes, it seems as though Canadian results are improving dramatically. As is shown here, Johnson’s ability to work with his swimmers and turn them into international competitors is what made him deserving of the 2014 Coach of the Year.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

  • Ben Titley – Titley is the head coach of the High Performance Centre in Toronto where he works with some of Canada’s top competitors. His main group consists of Martha McCabe, Zack Chetrat, Michelle Williams, and the newest addition to the group: Sandrine Mainville. Titley and his crew work at the new Toronto 2015 Pan Am Sports Centre and were courteous enough to give Swimswam a tour of the facility. Titley’s young enthusiastic approach brings a lot of success to his athletes, which is what landed him on this list.
  • Randy Bennett – Bennett works with some of Canada’s best athletes at the High Performance Centre in Victoria, British Columbia. Swimmers such as Ryan Cochrane, Hilary Caldwell, Will Brothers,  and Alec Page train with Bennett. Bennett had all four swimmers qualify for the Canadian Commonwealth Games team. At the games Cochrane won two golds and Caldwell a bronze.
  • Sean Baker - Baker is the head coach at the Oakville Aquatic Club where many of Canada’s best swimmers are emerging. His swimmers are breaking age-group marks and most recently, Evan White made a surge onto the international scene. Much like with Johnson, Baker is on here partly because of his ability to transfer White’s skills beyond that of just national competition. He’s also on this list due to the excellence of his age-group program. With Canada’s youth clearly being of great importance to Canadian swimming with such a young team, the ability to create a successful age-group club program is a crucial stepping stone to international success.

Source : Swim Swam