Brent Forsyth is one committed swim coach, some days making two round trips from his Victoria home to Sooke’s SEAPARC pool to train the Coho Swim Club’s 24 competitive swimmers.
Forsyth, a Level 3 coach (there are five levels), who has been coaching on and off since 1978, replaced Jeritt Brink in September after Brink found full-time work.
“I’m enjoying it a lot,” said Forsyth, the married father of two children. “It’s an opportunity to work with kids who are at the age where they become good swimmers.
“If you find kids that are enjoying the sport, they’re very receptive to coaching. They’re aware of their limits and they know when they can push beyond them. It’s very satisfying,” Forsyth said of that self-awareness that also helps the athletes better handle personal, school and work challenges.
Forsyth launched his swim life at age seven when he swam with the London Y Aquatic Club – LYAC – in London, Ont. The butterfly and freestyle specialist later swam competitively with the University of Western Ontario.
In 1978, Forsyth, 21 at the time, crossed the country to take a summer job as head coach with the Campbell River Swim Club, coaching eight-to-17-year-olds.
“It was fun. Campbell River was a fairly rowdy town then, with the mills, mining, fishing,” he recalled.
In the mid-1980s, Forsyth lived in Edmonton, where he coached national and Olympic qualifiers. By 1989, he was in Richmond, coaching the Richmond Racers. He soon married Joanne, and a daughter and son quickly followed.
Alberta beckoned again and by 1991, the family returned to Edmonton where Forsyth was a full-time project manager and part-time swim coach.
“There were a lot of moves. That’s the life of a coach,” he said.
The family later settled in Victoria, and in 2007 Forsyth rekindled coaching ties with the Greater Victoria Aquatic Club.
Since starting his job in Sooke in September, where he coaches five days of the week, Forsyth has noticed the varied abilities amongst the five groups he coaches. The swimmers, aged six to 15, range from beginners to those with Triple AAA times.
Because they’re younger swimmers, they benefit from technical training that helps them improve their stroke work.
“We’ll get them used to swimming well and then they can swim fast,” said Forsyth, who gets a lot of satisfaction when he sees his swimmers make big strides while having fun.
But his work isn’t restricted to just the swimmers.
“I’ve been developing relationships with all of the kids and their parents and various other people who surround swimming in Sooke,” Forsyth said.
A Campbell River swim meet in March is also on his radar. He’ll be taking several of his swimmers north to his old stomping grounds.
New, or returning swimmers, are welcome to join the Coho club, said Forsyth. He can be found on SEAPARC’s pool deck Monday to Thursday afternoons or Saturday mornings. Coho Swim Club President Rachel Dumas can also be contacted (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“Swimming is a skill you can use all of your life. I find the sport a place where you’ll find kids with great attitudes, kids that are good citizens and generally good students. Swimming keeps kids away from situations that would be questionable,” Forsyth said.
Contributed by Shannon Moneo