CORNER BROOK Nathan Burt was by no means shocked when he heard Bruce Hamlyn was named coach of the year in provincial swimming circles.
Burt, a 17-year-old Level 2 student at Corner Brook High, considers himself fortunate to have Hamlyn as a coach for most of his 11 years as a competitive swimmer with the Corner Brook Rapids Swim Club.
"All I can say is that he's always been right there for everyone," Burt said earlier this week. "He's inspirational, positive and understanding of all circumstances. Just a great person to have as a coach."
Hamlyn, who owns the distinction of being the first winner of the Corner Brook Triathlon back in 1982, was presented with Swim Newfoundland and Labrador's coach of the year award recently in St. John's.
Relishing in a full-time coaching gig with the Rapids for the past 10 years, Hamlyn was surprised he won the award, but very honoured to be recognized for his efforts because it was his peers who ultimately decided he was worthy of the distinction.
Hamlyn continues to preach to his athletes to have fun and give what they have on any given day, something he got accustomed to doing for three decades as a familiar face in the various disciplines of triathlon. He has also been consistent in the message he wanted his swimmers to hear loud and clear.
"Have fun, work hard and the only way you can take real enjoyment out of something is doing your best day in and day out, and that's where the reward comes," he said.
Burt said swimmers in the club are familiar with their coach's successes and the respect he has earned in the sporting community and they make every effort to take something positive from every experience. Going to the pool and working hard is something Burt, and likely many other swimmers, really finds easy to do when the coach provides a positive, fun environment for his athletes.
"We all know in our mind what he expects from us, and that motivates us to do what he expects and as a coach that is great," Burt said.
A mult-sport athlete with academics high on the priority list, Burt has had his days where he showed up at the pool tired and cranky for every reason from lack of sleep to being spent from another sport and his coach was always understanding of the situation. The coach, according to Burt, wouldn't want him to skip the session regardless of the scenario and encouraged him to give what he could regardless if it's his best or not at that particular time.
Sounds like a great environment to learn.
"You give your best on that day, whether that's your best day or not," he said of his coach's wisdom.
That wisdom, probably shared with people all over the world, wasn't lost on one of his peers — Alex Barter, who is the head coach of the Deer Lake Dolphins Swim Club.
"He has a wealth of experience and, as a local coach, I appreciate his willingness to share ideas, tips and knowledge," Barter said.