An interesting pool of coaching talent
by Randy Pascal
If the breeding grounds for coaches in many sports comes from athletes who have participated in said sport, then one would think the Sudbury
Synchronized Swim Club might face an awfully tough challenge finding mentors for their young ladies.
Like other non-traditional athletic endeavours, synchronized swimming does not benefit from an endless glut of young athletes at their disposal. Yet for
the local crew, tapping into qualified coaches has seldom been an issue.
Dating back a few years to the arrival of former national team competitor Carrie Deguerre Wilson, the Sudbury Synchro Club has not often been
hard pressed for coaches.
Current head coach Carolyn LeRoy and Laurentian student Patricia Moore are but two of the handful of women who willingly give back to a
sport they have enjoyed. The pair also represent an interesting cross-section of the varied background the sport attracts for both swimmers and coaches
For LeRoy, the path from athlete to coach has essentially brought her full circle. A native of Valley East, she benefited from a family background that
would see both of her older sisters blaze the trail of synchronized swimming, one she would follow from the age of eight.
The coaching bug would bite when she left Sudbury to attend the University of Ottawa, pursuing her post secondary education. “I wanted a way to
stay involved in the sport,” she said.
“There was a local club there that needed some coaches, and a friend of mine was coaching there as well.”
Cutting her teeth with coaching in the nation’s capital, LeRoy originally worked with the youngest of the competitive ranks, diversifying the swimmers
under her wings throughout the four years she spent in Ottawa.
“You learn coaching methods” said LeRoy, approached to help out with her former club in Sudbury the moment the local crew learned of her pending return
home in 2008. “Certainly, teaching some skills can be very difficult, especially with the older the girls get.”
“When you’re in the water feeling it, doing it, it’s different than trying to get a swimmer to get that mental image in their mind to be able to do a
skill,” explained the 25-year old LeRoy.
“I think I take the most pride in seeing a swimmer have a personal breakthrough,” said LeRoy. “It doesn’t only affect their life in the pool, it impacts
their life in general, it impacts them as young women.”
In contrast, Moore meandered her way to the sport. The Richmond Hill native drew on a competitive gymnastics foundation of some six years, coupled with
a stint in speed swimming, before combining elements of both with her start in synchronized swimming just before she reached high school.
“I think it’s a very unique sport,” said Moore. “There is a very close bond with the people that you work with and train with every day, and it’s nice
to see that develop in other people, see them experience what I experienced.”
She started mixing her role as a club coach all while still competing, eventually working her way through as a Tier 7 national swimmer with York. Now
completing the third year of her degree in Sport and Physical Education, Moore has been heading up a team of 13 to 15 year olds, working with the Sudbury
crew for the past two seasons.
Because she is not all that far removed from her own days as a competitor, Moore notes experiencing one of the on-going challenges that coaches often
face, even moreso if they have enjoyed a degree of success within a sport.
“I sometimes find it difficult stepping back and being able to realistically assess what my swimmers are able to do and what I would like them to do,”
she said. But what about when it all comes together?
“Those swimmers make it look effortless” said LeRoy, the current club head coach in Sudbury. “They’re stronger, they’re higher in the water, their
movements are sharper and more intricate, and they can perform more movements at a faster pace.”
Something to strive towards, for both swimmers and coaches alike with the crew of the Sudbury Synchronized Swim Club.