Top national swim coach back in the water

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Tasman Masters swimmers have been benefiting from some world-class coaching since coach Glen Findlay joined their ranks last year.

Glen moved to Nelson with his family at the start of last year after spending 20 years at AquaGym and QEII in Christchurch, where he coached three-time Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallist swimmer Helen Norfolk and Olympic triathlete Craig Watson.

He also coached a number of national squads at world champs and worked extensively with Paralympic star Sophie Pascoe and her coach Roly Crichton.

“I’m from Greymouth, so I only started swimming at AquaGym when we moved to Christchurch when I was 14. We had Brett Naylor as coach and had a really strong squad with swimmers like Anna Simcic.

“When I finished swimming competitively, I joined AquaGym as assistant coach to Brett and after four-and-a-half years took over the programme as head coach. Then I went to work for the Christchurch City Council developing their aquatic programme – we had one of the biggest junior programmes in the country until the earthquake levelled QEII and Centennial Pool.”

The earthquake also destroyed the Findlay’s home in Parklands, precipitating a move to Nelson.

“The earthquake was the catalyst, I suppose, but we were looking at a change before that anyway because coaching is not family-friendly. You are away a lot and the hours are terrible when you have three young children so, when my wife was offered a job here in Nelson, we jumped at the opportunity.”

Although Glen has put his professional coaching career on hold, exchanging it for the equally challenging task of house-husbanding, he is still keeping his hand-in at the Richmond Aquatic Centre. “When we moved here I wanted to start swimming again, so I joined the Tasman Masters. It’s been good getting back in the pool again and it’s good to be able to give a small helping hand here and there.

“They are a very diverse group with entry level swimmers right through to swimmers who have competed at the Commonwealth Games. It’s fun swimming with them and I’m enjoying the coaching again, too.

“It’s also been good catching up with the coaches up here – Andy Adair has an extremely good programme running and Jos Pattison was an absolute legend when I was coaching in Christchurch – there are definitely a lot of good things happening in swimming in Nelson.”

But Glen is also learning a thing or two about swimming, after diving into open water swimming at the Port Nelson Sea Swim series. He says he was “like a little baby out there” during the first few sea swims, with swimmers from the Tasman Masters that he was lapping over 400m in the pool finishing over a minute ahead in open water. “I didn’t know how far I’d gone or where I was going – it was an eye-opener. But I talked to the other swimmers about it and implemented the things I learned and slowly got it sorted – it’s been very enjoyable.”

Glen is preparing for another first as he trains for his first marathon, in Auckland in November.

“I’ve hit the mid-forties so I’m running to try and stay in shape – I want to turn my mono-ab into a stereo-ab. I’m not a runner, but I’d love to go under four hours.”