Aquatic Development Manager & Salford Head Coach. Group: P1
“I started swimming from a very early age after it was recommended due to temporary paralysis caused by an allergic reaction to a vaccine. My swimming career took me from Atherton SC to Tyldesley SC and then an 8 year membership of Wigan Wasps who were unrivalled as the best club in that particular era when 5 members went to the Moscow Olympics in 1980 and then 8 to the LA Olympics 1984. I was involved in other sports up to the age of 12 and had county trials for Rugby League and was a Brown Belt at Karate which I had to give up due to persistent knee problems and the need to focus on swimming which was becoming my obvious talent.
As a swimmer, I was National Champion for my age several times for the 200m Butterfly and also made finals in the 400m Freestyle, 400m IM and 100m Butterfly. I retired at 17 which still remains a regret as those who used to finsh behind me at nationals went on to gain Olympic selection. I represented the England Youth Team from 1985 – 1986 and also captained Lancashire in 1986.
After finishing swimming, I took my teaching qualifications and started working as a teacher/lifeguard at Wigan facilities and a private shcool in Bolton. I also worked on School Holiday and Ativity programmes coaching other sports whilst also coaching for Keith Bewley back at the Wasps. I continued this pattern whilst doing a degree in Leisure Management in Sheffield. Jobs were scarce after graduation so my best bet for a job was something I was expereienced in and qualified to do. I moved away form home to Cardiff SC and City Council, starting a full time Swimming Development and Coaching role as assistant to Dave Haller. In this time, I coached 14 National Medallists, 4 National Champions, 4 GB Junior Swimmers and developed the early career of Olympic Medallist David Davies up to 15 years.
After 9 years and many happy memories in Cardiff, I moved to Bristol as Head Coach and had a very successful spell coaching Chris Cozens and Karen Lee who became European Junior Medallists and Senior National Champions. I have been fortunate to work with the 2 most exceptional coaches in British Swimming history who have both coached Olympic Medallists and this has been invaluable expoerience in developing my own coaching philosophy.
Times have changed in modern swimming and my focus is very much on nurturing and developing home-grown swimmers. As a coach, there is no better achievement than having the local swimmer in armbands go all the way to the top. Working in Salford’s 25m pools is a superior coaching environment for developing starts, turns, technique, speed and these are at the forefront of my development philosophy. Other important considerations are to avoiud early burnout and be mindful of invididual biological development – many great swimmers arrive post 18 years. It is also imporatant to realise that Britain’s Swimming World Record Holders [Liam Tancock, Jo Jackson & Rebecca Adlington] all trained in 25m pools up to the age of 18 and Rebecca still does.
Many UK programmes rely on getting their swimmers fitter than the opposition with high training volumes and philosophies that centre upon ‘the cream rising to the top’. Salford is about developing athletes for the long term and doing things differently to suit different individuals. We try to programme training around ‘family, education and friends time’ over 5 days rather than 6, whichis again unique to Salford and I believe serves to add longevity to the careers of our swimmers.
The message to my staff is to develop technique, speed, kick, starts, turns and then add endurance/ With strong land conditioning programmes to develop athleticism and promoting great attitude, commitment and application – this is how we produce champions in Salford and prepare them for their future with important life skills developed within the programme.
Salford is a special place for swimmers and 17 Internationals since my arrival in 2001, along with a great history of success back to our inception in 1977 bare testimony to what an outstanding training programme and legacy we have.”