Queenstown Swim Club coach Daniel McLennan (left) with
Sophie Gibson (15), Rebekah Paul (16) and Patrick Harris
(15), all of Queenstown. The trio, along with Nikayla Bolch
(15), of Cromwell, will head to Wellington this weekend to
compete in the 2013 New Zealand short course swimming
championships. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
Four members of the Queenstown Swimming Club will this
weekend head to Wellington to compete in the 2013 New Zealand
Short Course Championships, a five-day swimming meet.
Sophie Gibson, Rebekah Paul, and Patrick Harris, all of
Queenstown, and Nikayla Bolch, of Cromwell, have been
training up to 16 hours a week, juggling time in the pool
with studying for NCEA level 1 and 2.
Sophie has also been selected to represent the South Island
in a national zone competition - a pilot run by Swim New
Zealand to create a pathway to national representation.
Swimmers from 17 clubs in the South Island have been selected
for the Makos team to contest a one-day competition in
Wellington next month, pitting the best swimmers throughout
the country aged 15 and under and 16 and over.
For the past nine weeks, the swimmers have been under the
watchful eye of instructor Daniel McLennan, employed through
a joint venture with the club and Alpine Aqualand.
Club vice-president Caroline Gibson said the previous coach,
Frank Wylie, had been with the club for 16 years, but after
he retired in April, the club realised it could not afford to
employ a full-time coach.
''He [Mr McLennan] needed more hours than we could give him,
so we went to the council and said we wanted to attract him
[to the club].''
A sharing arrangement was proposed - Mr McLennan could be
employed by the council for about 10 hours a week and help
with Alpine Aqualand's Learn to Swim programme, assist with
pool crew and also help with school swimming programmes,
while the club would also employ him to train its rising
''The whole council has been great. [Mayor] Vanessa van Uden
has really helped and with this new structure ... we have an
excellent relationship,'' Mrs Gibson said.
It is a remarkable turnaround. Four years ago the club and
the council were at loggerheads, with the former petitioning
the council for more access for independent learn-to-swim
classes at Alpine Aqualand, feeling commercial operators were
being shut out of the facility at the Queenstown Events
QLDC recreation programmes team leader Jendi Paterson said it
was a ''fantastic'' progression.
''At the end of the day we have the ability and resources to
work in partnership and collaboration with our community
groups and clubs.
''In this instance, for the Queenstown Swim Club to attract a
full-time quality squad coach such as Daniel they needed some
assistance from us.
''It was a no-brainer from our end. Daniel will provide our
swim school with his wealth of knowledge and our current
instructors and co-ordinator can help expand his Learn to
Swim skill set, setting up a sustainable swimming environment
for our current and future swimming community and hopefully
together we can help attract short-course meets to Alpine
The aim was for the two organisations to work together to
create better pathways for swimmers.
The swim school is teaching children how to swim and the club
is taking it a step further, involving them in squads and
introducing them to competitive swimming.
The ultimate goal was having more people participating and
Mrs Gibson said the new arrangement was ''ground-breaking for
Queenstown'' and children were already reaping the benefits.
''It's the first time it's been done [here] - Daniel is a
very qualified swim coach ... [his] focus on technique and a
variety of training [methods] is improving the performance of
''He's done an awesome job of working with the kids and
getting them to the level where they will PB [set personal
bests] . . .
''Most of our kids are seeded in the top 10 in their races at
the moment. That's an awesome achievement.
''We would hope these kids would go away and make finals ...
some of them are medal contenders.''
Additionally, the club had ensured Mr McLennan, who, before
he moved to Queenstown was living overseas and had a mentor
in Thomas Ansorg, a former Olympic swimming coach and now
North Shore Swimming Club's head coach.
''We had a relationship with Thomas and [Daniel] now has a
mentor at the highest level. It will benefit him and our
athletes, because through that we're getting access to
Ms Paterson said Mr McLennan was a huge asset to the
''We're looking forward, very much, to working with him and
having him involved in our Learn to Swim programmes.
''Across our business he brings a wealth of knowledge and
experience. We believe he'll fit into the team and we'll be
able to learn from each other.''
Mrs Gibson said the next focus for club would be looking at
attracting bigger short-course events to Queenstown.
''We've got the facility, we've got the people [to run a
meet]. The next step will be attracting [events].''