When Chad Webb hits the water as the new head coach of the Williams Lake Blue Fins Swim Club this September, he’ll be bringing with him a wealth of coaching experience.
Webb, who started as a competitive swimmer in Penticton and competed up to the national level, began his coaching career at a young age after a shoulder injury forced him out of the sport.
“I actually started out coaching in Williams Lake,” Webb said. “It was my first head coaching position when I lived here about 17 years ago. Now it’s kind of come full circle.”
Webb coached with the North Vancouver Chenas — one of the top age group programs in the nation — before moving on to an opportunity to work with the University of British Columbia’s varsity, university and national teams. He also coached at the 2006 Para Pan Am Games in Rio, and was a coach at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.
“That was a really unique opportunity,” he said. “The last five years of my coaching career [at UBC] I’ve had the chance to work with some of the highest-end swimmers in the country.
“I worked with the head national coach there, Tom Johnson, who just came back [from the Olympics] with Brent Hayden and a bronze medal in the 100-metre freestyle.”
Returning to the Blue Fins Webb hopes to boost enrollment, and continue to produce strong swimmers. He said getting back to a smaller community will be a nice change of pace from a 60-hour per week national-program schedule.
“There’s different needs with the athletes here. For some it’s recreational, it’s a lifestyle … and for others it’s wanting to compete for the Olympic team,” he said. “Our first goal is to boost up the numbers and then get our competition swimmers up to provincial level and above.”
Webb said he hopes to keep longtime Blue Fins coach Marilyn Haines around to help out as much as possible.
“She’s been coaching the Blue Fins for more than 15 years,” he said. “When I was hired 17 years ago she was helping me and it was a great working relationship and we had a lot of fun.”
Starting Monday, Sept. 24 the club will offer a week of free practices for swimmers and families wanting to try out the sport to see if it’s right for them.
“Come try the sport, come see what it’s about,” Webb said. “We’re going to run sessions this year so you don’t have to commit to the entire year, you can sign up for a few months and see if you like that session.”
Starting Monday, Oct. 1 the club will begin its full practice schedule.
Webb added he has a big name he’s working on bringing to Williams Lake for October.
“I’ve been talking with Olympic silver medalist Ryan Cochrane and I’m hoping to have him come up and do a few things … do some water sessions, but we’re looking for a corporate sponsor to help us do that.”
Last year Canadian national team swimmers Scott Dickens and Annamay Pierse were in Williams Lake conducting a swim camp.
“Marilyn’s done a great job with the Swim with an Olympian Camp in Williams Lake and we want to continue that,” he said.
“Right now the big name is Ryan Cochrane so we want to continue it. It’s a great opportunity.”