Melanie Marshall, who steered Adam Peaty from young talent to Commonwealth and European titles and world records, has been honoured as Britain’s Coach of the Year at the end of a stellar breakthrough season for the 19-year-old breaststroke ace.
Marshall makes history as the first woman to win the top coaching award in Britain. And she did so in a very competitive year in which other contenders included Jon Rudd, with Ruta Meilutyte and Ben Proud, Dave McNulty, with Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Chris Walker-Hebborn, and James Gibson, with Fran Halsall and Georgia Davies among charges who celebrated 26 medals between them at Commonwealth and European levels.
Brian McGuiness, Executive Director of the BSCA, noted the competitive nature of the field for the top honour when he described the choice as “a great problem for us to have had”.
A fine moment that of celebrating Britain’s latest breaststroke bounty to also recognise a man who steered Adrian Moorhouse to Olympic gold: the British Swimming Coaches Association awards night included a lifetime achievement for coach Terry Denison in the most appropriate of cities for an honour to be granted: Leeds.
Marshall and Peaty
The partnership of Marshall and Peaty was Made in Derby. Promise turned to big prizes this season when Peaty defeated Olympic gold and silver medallists Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) and Christian Sprenger (AUS) over 100m breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July, when the Englishman joined the sub-59sec club. He followed that with silver in the 50m breaststroke and gold as a member of England’s winning 4x100m medley quart ahead of Australia.
The month after at the European Championships in Berlin, Peaty topped the league of best men with four gold medals and two world records: after 100m victory, he added the 50m title via a world record of 26.62 in semis, his other global mark established in the fledgling 4x100m mixed medley relay with Britain teammates Chris Walker-Hebborn, Jemma Lowe and Fran Halsall.
Marshall, who before taking up coaching raced for Britain and England and claimed a record Commonwealth Games haul of six medals back in 2006, tweeted messages of thanks to those who have helped her – and those who have stood in her way – after lifting the top award at the BSCA annual gathering at the weekend:
“Just wanna say huge thanks to @Cityofderbysc for all their support dreams do come true truly humbled and honoured to receive coach of the year but it’s all the volunteers and positive people we have on board in the background that make the dream work. To all that support me I thank u and to all that have stood in my way I thank u too, I thank my mum for bringing me up to have deep routed fearlessness and engrained messages of make the best of what you have. Enough celebrating – now it’s time to keep trying to move forward.”
The awards night at the BSCA annual conference also celebrated , with “Coaching Awards of Excellence” the achievements of:
- Ben Higson, of the University of Stirling and guide to Commonwealth 200m breaststroke champion for Scotland, Ross Murdoch
- Kevin Renshaw, of the University of Loughboriough, who coached Daniel Fogg to the European 5km crown for Britain and Roberto Pavoni to two podiums at the European Championships [Photo: Renshaw and Fogg, by CAL]
- Richard Denigan, of City of Leeds, who steered Sophie Taylor to the Commonwealth 100m breaststroke title for England
- James Gibson, of the Uniersity of Loughborough, who coached Fran Halsall and Georgia Davies to Commonwealth crowns (50m freestyle in a world textile best and butterfly for Halsall and England; 50m backstroke for Davies and Wales) and Halsall to the European 50m freestyle title as well as relay honours.
- Dave McNulty, of the University of Bath, for steering Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Chris Walker-Hebborn to Commonwealth titles (200IM for O’Connor as well as five other medals in Glasgow; and the 100m backstroke and 4x100m medley relay for Walker-Hebborn) and European titles for Walker-Hebborn in the same two events in which he had claimed gold in Glasgow
- Jon Rudd, of Plymouth Leander, who coach Ben Proud to Commonwealth crowns in the 50m freestyle and butterfly for England and European gold as a member of the Britain 4x100m medley quartet; and Olympic and World champion Ruta Meilutyte, for titles Youth Olympic (50 and 100m breaststroke) and European senior over 50m breaststroke that granted her a grand slam of gold medals at every level of honour she is eligible for.
Lifetime Honour For Terry Denison
Rudd also assumed the chair of the BSCA as coach Terry Denison, mentor to 1988 Olympic champion Adrian Moorhouse and generations of others in Leeds, stood down after almost a half a century of dedication to swimming.
[Photo: Terry Denison with his wife Mona, courtesy of the BSCA]
Denison’s contribution was recognised by the BSCA with the honour of the George Bole Memorial Award for Outstanding Service to British Swimming Coaching.
BSCA citation for Denison:
Terry Denison MBE was the first recipient of the George Bole Memorial Award for Outstanding Service to Swimming Coaching in Great Britain. He was Head Coach to City of Leeds SC for 35 years until retiring from active coaching in 2003. During this time, City of Leeds won the European Community Men’s Club Team Championship in 1990; won 15 National Senior Team Championships, 19 National Speedo League Championships
His results are of course now legendary; James Hickman was 5 times World Short Course Champion, Claire Huddart was a member of the GB World SC 4×200 Relay Champions with City of Leeds swimmers set a World LC Record (equalled on 2 further occasions) and 6 World SC records. He had 17 swimmers selected for Olympic Games Teams, with feature swims from Andrew Astbury who won Bronze in 1984 in Los Angeles & of course there was the unforgettable performance of Adrian Moorhouse in the Men’s 100m Breaststroke Final in Seoul in 1988 where he won gold by 0.01s.
He was BSCA Coach of the Year 11 times in his career and in 1989 was selected as Coach of the Year by the British Institute of Sport. In 1996 he was awarded the Harold Fern Award by the ASA, the MBE for services to swimming in 1998, UK Sport Massabini Award and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003. He also spent 3 years working with Swim Ireland to set up their High Performance Programme.
He stood down as BSCA Chair last weekend after 11 years in the position, a period during which saw it grow in membership, influence and level of service to swimming coaches throughout Britain, uniquely looking out for their welfare and rights as well as their education & development.
Terry held every Award the BSCA could offer him, so they developed a new one that gave recognition to the outstanding service he has given to Swimming Coaching in Great Britain, in the name & memory of the BSCA founder, George Bole. It is an Award that may never be given again, given its criteria, but which perfectly respects the standing of this outstanding man & coach.
Also Recognised Were…
There were also honours for Rob Greenwood, his work with Stephanie Slater, granting him the Para Coach of the Year award; Tony Beckley, who received a Para Award of Excellence; Adam Baker, of Swansea, who has steered Dan Jervis, of Wales, into the sub-15min 1500m club and receives the Youth Coach of the Year award; and coach Sean Balmer, of Cockermouth, who received the Alan Hime Award.
Catching up on the honours awarded by the BSCA in Scotland, Higson was named Coach of the Year for his work with Murdoch [Photo by Ian McNicol]; and the Junior Coach of the Year Award was shared by F.I.R.S.T’s Steve Tigg & Elaine Johnston for their work with Duncan Scott.
Comment: A lack of financial support for the Splash Awards organised by Karen Pickering caused the seasonal honours to be cancelled. If ever there was a season for Splash to make a splash once more, this is it, the success of Britain’s coaches and swimmers this season well worth celebrating. As head coach to Britain, Bill Furniss, noted, this was not the Olympics nor world titles, but even so, progress in the realm of racing at best when it counts was more than tangible and worthy of recognition.
A New Summer Championships & Qualification Window
- (The following is a British Swimming Release)
The establishment of a new British Summer Championships has been given the green light as the first headline component of a broader British Swimming Performance Pathway Strategy aimed at increasing and supporting junior talent on the journey to senior medal-winning performance.
From 2015 swimmers will have the opportunity to post a long course time within a ‘qualification window’ (broadly expected to be between mid-March and late-May) with up to 24 top ranked swimmers in each age group and event being invited to the new end of season British Summer Championships.
“Our new system needs to clearly demonstrate effectiveness in supporting the achievement of high performance outcomes at the senior international level,” – Tim JonesFor those that finish outside of the top ranked places, the next level of talent will have the opportunity of attending a home nation event in England, Scotland and Wales at around the same time period.
This competition structure has been designed to expose an even greater number of young, talented swimmers to national competition whilst at the same time providing a firm foundation to ensure Britain sees more of its exciting junior talent transition to becoming successful senior athletes.
The structure was endorsed and supported by all home countries at the last meeting of the British Swimming Board and follows internal consultation and external dialogue within the swimming community, the British Swimming Coaches Association and key stakeholders UK Sport..
Head of Swimming’s Performance Pathway Tim Jones has been working on a new strategic framework for talent development designed not only to increase Britain’s standing in the international arena, but also to significantly increase the volume of the talent pool as well.
“We looked at every aspect – we analysed our own performance history, collaborated closely with the swimming community, engaged on specific work with the UK Sport Pathways Team, and listened intently to expert opinions as we set about understanding the need and direction for change,” explained Jones.
“As a result of our research we have now challenged ourselves to implement a robust and sustainable system which is world-leading in its capacity to produce and then appropriately transition swimmers from junior to senior level.
“Our new system also needs to clearly demonstrate effectiveness in supporting the achievement of high performance outcomes at the senior international level and the endorsement from all of the home nations recognises our framework to achieve this.”
Key elements of the first stage of the Pathway Strategy include:
- Working together to support our coaches to improve athlete performance potential
- Progressive minimum ages for each tier of Championship swimming, to reduce the risk of early burn-out
- Entry to the end of season British Summer Championships and Home Nation meets to be based on a designated “Qualification Window”
- A re-emphasis of the pre-Christmas short course swimming season
- The adoption of the consistent use of age at 31st December for Championship Meets to realign with LEN/FINA. All other competitions are to be given the flexibility to determine their own age bandings to allow variety
- Removal of BAGCAT points as part of Championship meet series
Following on from the endorsement of the wider strategy, home nations will be communicating their domestic competition plans in alignment with the agreed strategy, ensuring the implementation of a new calendar which will provide fit, flow and progression.
The dates and venue for the 2015 British Summer Championships will be announced shortly.