Bruce Hamlyn is all smiles when he looks at how far some of his competitive swimmers have come in the pool.
Hamlyn is the head coach of the Corner Brook Rapids Swim Club, winners of the Most Improved Team award at the provincial short course swim championships held recently at the Gander Community Centre.
The award is handed out on an annual basis to the team with the highest percentage of best times individual swimmers ever had in their amateur swim careers.
According to Hamlyn, it all comes down to the most successful splashes and this time around the Rapids were at the top of their game against the best young swimmers from across Newfoundland and Labrador.
“They dove off the blocks 90 times and out of that 90 times 81 of them were best times so more or less 90 per cent,” Hamlyn said of his Rapids’ stellar performance in claiming the award.
Hamlyn said it would be reasonable to expect the younger swimmers to accomplish a best time pretty well every time they hit the pool, but it’s much more difficult for the more seasoned swimmers to do it on a consistent basis so he was quite impressed to see the Rapids 15-member contingent of mostly older swimmers get the job done.
“The more you are elite the harder it is for you to do your very best performance every time,” he said.
Hamlyn has been immersed in coaching for years, but this year’s team has really impressed him with their strong work ethic and commitment to train seven days a week with most swimming 35 kilometres per week.
“We as coaches aren’t fooling them up, but it’s their hard work inevitably that’s showing through,” he said.
“They really have excellent work ethics, which is almost unusual for young people,” he said. “They love to come to the pool and they love to put the work in.”
To be able to stay focused on a gruelling training schedule is not only a physical challenge for the swimmers, he said, but it’s a test of each athlete’s mental endurance and patience to be able to keep at it over a long period of time. As coaches, he said, the goal is to make it a little bit interesting and switch things up from time to time to avoid having swimmers become bored with what they are doing.
From a coaching perspective, Hamlyn appreciates being the head coach of a bunch of dedicated athletes when he has a great supporting cast to help him deliver the program. He likes the fact many of the coaches with the Rapids are in their 40s and have experience on their side.
“Which makes it a little bit easier on me as a head coach,” he said of having a great group of people coaching with him. “Like you can depend on people. You know really mature and sensible people. It’s a lot of fun.”