Roxon denies claim he has âunethicalâ coaching approach
© â Star photo by Frank Gale
Patrick Power is shown on Wednesday.
STEPHENVILLE Stephenville native Robert Dower believes Aqua Aces Swim Club coach Leonard Roxonâs approach goes against every ethical coaching guideline in Canada.
However, Roxon, who took over the coaching duties with the Aqua Aces in September, insists he is just passing on information to his athletes like any good coach would do in an effort to help them improve their performance in the pool.
Dower, a 25-year-old who recently returned to Stephenville after retiring from the Canadian Navy, has a younger brother â 12-year-old Patrick Power â swimming with the Aqua Aces.
Dower has concerns about a series of recent emails coach Roxon sent to members of the club and felt it was necessary to let people know whatâs been happening under the tutelage of the coach, father of Paralympic swimming star Katarina Roxon.
Dower says he disagrees with coach Roxon distributing to children â ages five to 16 registered with the club â an email Dower views as encouraging the use of performance boosting substances such as Gu Energy Gel.
He also says he didnât appreciate an email sent out that detailed coach Roxonâs concern about ferritin (iron) levels in his swimmers because the coach felt many swimmers were struggling to keep up with the program.
Dower thought it wasnât appropriate for the coach to ask young swimmers to get blood work done.
âBloodwork for five-year-olds is totally inappropriate,ââDower said. âTheyâre in there to have a little bit of fun and, if by some miracle they become Olympic swimmers like his daughter (Katarina) did, that would be great. But if they donât, then this is a little fun after school for them to do.â
As for Roxon, he said heâs doing what a coach is supposed to do and thatâs to apply what he learns from people who have paved the way.
âIâm not promoting anything. Iâve given them nutrition and hydration guidelines according to Coaches of Canada,ââhe said. âTheyâre not my own guidelines and Iâm not promoting any specific drink or methodology. Iâve given them an entire list of the things they can do, which is what any coach should do and which is what the national team does with us.
âAll the philosophies I use with the team are philosophies that Iâhave learned from the national team and anything Iâsuggest Iâve got sufficient scientific documentation to back up what Iâsuggest.â
âItâs all within the Coaches of Canada guidelines and what he (Dower) is doing is picking and choosing selective words and selective sentences putting it out of context, and heâs manipulating everything that Iâhave said and heâs not taking the full email in context,ââRoxon added.
âAnybody can take one word and put it together with another word and make it look bad, and thatâs exactly what heâs doing.â
Roxon said emails were sent to swimmers, with his only intent being to inform and educate, and by no means did he suggest that youngsters as young as six years old be eager to try Gu or any of the other suggested gels he mentioned.
âI just sent out an email to all parents so nobody feels left out, thatâs it,â he said. âIâm not saying a six-year-old should take Gu. Gu is what the national team physiologist suggested that competitive athletes take.â
âThereâs no banned substances in it, and itâs not a performance-enhancer like Robert portrays it to be,ââhe added.
As for the email asking parents for blood work, Roxon recognized lot of the swimmers were struggling with the program so he wanted to eliminate various reasons for this including low ferritin (iron)âlevels.
âIf iron levels are low, there is a chance kids may get sick,ââhe said.
âI have an email from the national team physiologist who has suggested that these are the tests that need to be done,ââhe added, noting his email included a number of disclaimers including one to discuss this issue with a physician and that itâs not compulsory for a swimmer to be a member of the club.
Roxon, who was teaching Robert to swim in the evenings for free until his schedule wouldnât allow it, finds it odd that itâs only now that the family is voicing concerns about his coaching methods. He suspects it all went awry in January after he had a discipline issue with Patrick.
âIf they thought that because of how friendly they are with me that their child would get extra concessions Iâm sorry because Iâhave to treat every child fairly,ââhe added.
According to Roxon, his swimmer was back at practice the next day, but has since been handed a temporary suspension by the clubâs executive.
Roxon says he isnât taking the matter lightly and he feels he has done nothing wrong to jeopardize the safety or training of his swimmers.
âHeâs taking everything that Iâve said and twisted it around and thatâs up to him,ââRoxon said. âI have already sought legal counsel.â
When the young swimmer does return to the Aces, he will be looking at working with a new coach because Roxon said he has the right to choose who he coaches.