Mel Marshall retained her place at the pinnacle of British coaching as she was names Coach of the Year for the second year in succession at the annual British Swimming Coaches Association awards. Having become the first female coach to scoop the award last year, Marshall was once again honoured for her work with Adam Peaty who was Britain’s stand out performer in 2015.
Peaty won three golds at the World Championships as well as setting breaststroke world records over 100m, where he was the first man inside 58 seconds, and 50m, where he regained the global mark denied him by bureaucratic confusion. Peaty always stresses the importance of their teamwork and after a stellar season in 2014, they both deserve credit for moving things on again in 2015.
It can’t have been completely straightforward for the judges, however, with Millfield’s Jol Finck also a strong contender for the top prize. Finck coached James Guy to two world gold medals, including a stunning victory over 200m freestyle, and a world silver over 400m freestyle. He didn’t leave empty handed though, being awarded a BSCA Coaching Award of Excellence in recognition of a successful year.
Further coaching awards of Excellence were given to recognise Britain’s best-ever showing at the World championships, principally those who guided GB swimmers to bronze medals in Kazan. Dave McNulty of Bath NPC was recognised for his work with Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Jazz Carlin while Ben Higson of Stirling had performed a similar role for Ross Murdoch. Higson had already been awarded Scottish Coach of the year by the BSCA at a ceremony last week.
Further excellence awards were given to Steve Tigg and Elaine Johnstone, and Russ Barber coaches to Duncan Scott and Nick Grainger respectively, who were both critical members of the men’s 4x200m freestyle squad in Kazan, while Jon Rudd was rewarded for his ongoing work with Ruta Meilutyte. A final award was given to James Gibson for his work with Fran Halsall, who may have left Kazan without an individual medal, but remains ranked in the top 6 in the world over 50m freestyle and fly and was a critical part of the world champion and world record setting mixed medley team.
From those plying their trade with Britain’s junior swimmers, Sean Balmer, coach to European Games champion and world junior record setter Luke Greenbank, and Nathan Hilton, coach to world junior 400IM champion Rosie Rudin, shared the youth coach of the year award.
In the ranks of Para Swimming coaches, Glenn Smith of Mansfield Nova was named coach of the year for his work with Ollie Hynd and Charlotte Henshaw, while a Para Coaching Award of Excellence went to Ashley Cox of Boldmere who guided Tully Kearny to four gold medals at the IPC World Championships.
Each year the BSCA rewards a young coach with limited or no previous international coaching experience who has made a breakthrough over the year with the Alan Hime Memorial award, and this year’s recipient was Ryan Livingstone of Newcastle swim team. Livingstone has reinvigorated the Newcastle programme, placing Georgia Darwent, Annalea Davison and Emily Large onto European Youth Olympics and Commonwealth Youth teams where they all won medals.
Finally lifetime achievement awards were given to Ian Tuner and Eleanor Walsh. Turner was Britain’s head coach between 1999 and 2008 and more recently the head coach of Singapore, but is known as much for coaching Paul Palmer to two Olympic medals in 1996.
Eleanor meanwhile is a shining example of commitment to the sport of swimming. She has devoted her life to the building of a swimming pool in Cockermouth, starting a swimming club in the town and producing a host of international standard swimmers, and all this achieved whilst being in the unusual position of coaching from a wheelchair.