Head Coach: Danielle Brault, B.Sc. (phys.ed.), M.Sc. (kinesiology), NCCP (Level 3)
Over 30 years of coaching already – time flies when one’s having fun! I started in 1973 as an assistant with the Équipe de Natation de Cowansville (Québec) and became the head coach in May 1977. The youth team was quite competitive at the time with about 100 swimmers, almost maximum numbers considering Cowansville is a small town of 12,000. At the same time as heading the Swim Team, I also taught physical education in Eastern Townships’ elementary schools. An extremely busy period of my life.
Having heard of the Masters program, I started coaching a group of adults as an extension to the youth group in 1979. And it was fun! Quite a few of the swimmers who were with the club when it began are still swimming in Cowansville. It is great for me to join them in workouts when I’m in Quebec visiting my family.
In 1985, I took a one year leave of absence from my Quebec jobs and traveled to Germany where I became head coach of the Lahr Beavers Swim Team, a club set up for children of Canadian military personnel based in Lahr. These adults were keen and fit, an easy target for starting another Masters program. We competed in Switzerland, France, Denmark . . . a tough life!
I enjoyed Germany so much that I applied for a teaching job with DND and for several years taught at base schools in Lahr and Baden. Back in Canada in 1991, I completed a Masters degree in kinesiology at the Université de Montréal and did some coaching with the University’s Masters Team for one year. I then returned to Cowansville for a couple of years to teach and yes, to coach masters.
In July 1994 I met Avila at the World Championships in Montreal and she told me the Victoria Masters were looking for a coach for the upcoming season. Super for me as I was moving west and looking for work. And here I am in 2012. This is my 18th year with VMSC and I truly enjoy coaching such dedicated swimmers. When I’m not coaching or teaching, I’m in the water myself or on the running trail.
Assistant Coach: Avila Rhodes, B.Ed.
Avila has been swimming with the Victoria Masters Swim club for about thirty years – she recruited Danielle to coach the team when they met in 1994! Avila started as an assistant coach for the club in the 2003-2004 season, and her enthusiasm for swimming and athletics is much appreciated by the swimmers! Avila has been instructing/coaching at a number of Victoria pools since her teens. After high school she got her BEd at Uvic and taught for several years.
Avila has been working as a coach/development program coordinator for the Island Swimming Club at Commonwealth Pool for the past 23 years (& continues to do so) mainly introducing young swimmers to the world of competitive swimming. She has competed & trained as a Masters swimmer for more than 30 years. During the summers Avila admits to dabbling in open water swims and triathlons.
Assistant Coach: Alex Cape. B Mus, B Ed, NCCP (Level 2)
I started swimming as an awkward 11 year old, with none other than Rod Carmichael as my first coach. I was not a success as a young swimmer, not at all. And while this was a discouraging time for me, I think that experience helped shape how I coach and teach others.
I first started coaching in 1995, volunteering with Victoria Special Olympics. That same year, my sister and I started a team at my high school, which is when I first worked with Avila. From 1995 to 2006, I made my way through the ranks of BC Summer Swimming, finishing my career as a Head Coach. I have coached all over BC, and have seen hundreds of kids grow up. In fact, over the years I have coached both Rod’s and Avila’s kids.
I studied music and education at UVic and had plans of becoming a band teacher. I ended up working with developmentally disabled adults for 3 years, and after considering more schooling for social work or nursing, I joined the Army Reserves as a medic in 2009.
Having spent more than 20 years in the pool, swimming is clearly my first love. But I also play hockey, soccer, and football, and am a qualified ski instructor. I joined Victoria Masters in 2006, and began filling in for the coaches in 2007. Being on the pool deck makes me happy, and I love watching as swimmers of all levels make improvements and work hard.
Assistant Coach: Cindy Mabee
Cindy Mabee is the newest addition to the Vic Masters coaching staff. Cindy started swimming in 1976 with the Saanich Swim Club at the Gordon Head Pool. She swam competitively until 1992, swimming at the National level (finalist and medalist) from age 13. She started coaching in 1988 to help out with the club she was swimming for, caught the bug and started coaching full-time in 1990 in Campbell River. As a certified NCCP Level III coach, Cindy has coached all over the province, and has worked with a broad range of ages and abilities. Many of the youngsters she coached have gone on to swim for Provincial and National teams, and break Provincial and National records. After 25 years of coaching, she now recognizes many of those youngsters as 40 year olds who are still swimming.
Cindy started swimming Masters in 2002 and has had a blast racing as an adult. In spite of taking breaks along the way to focus on family and coaching, she has swum personal life time best times in the last few years and has broken several World Records (around 14 at last estimate).
Assistant Coach: Judy Newman (B.Ed, NCCP Levels I, II)
Judy started her swimming ‘career’ back in the ‘70s with the Oak Bay High School swim team. Being disqualified in her first race at the brand new Crystal Pool was one of the best things that ever happened to her ~ a game changer and a life-shaper. It brought her under the skilled coaching of Ian Black (who astutely told her she was “all heart and no talent”), then Olympian coach Howard Firby, Victoria Masters’ founder Jock Noble and our very own head coach, Danielle Brault. One of the original Vic Masters members, Judy swam with the team for 34 years before joining the coaching squad. The transition was remarkably easy! When not on deck, Judy is an elementary school teacher & coach and quickly discovered that working with Masters swimmers is really not all that different from working with 7 year oldsJ Judy loves being in the water now as much as she did as a child ~ a testament to her coaches, teammates and the joy of being a Victoria Masters swimmer & coach!
Assistant Coach: Dale Robinson
Swimming has been a constant in Dale’s life for nearly 30 years now, and will undoubtedly remain so for the next 30 to come. Being a swimmer is a lifestyle – a really fun way to stay in shape, a great social outlet, and a perfect reason to travel and experience some of the most interesting places around the world. As a swimmer, Dale definitely prefers to specialize in the distance and open-water events, although he will still dig in for a good sprint challenge from time to time. As a coach, he has spent the past 20 years watching with pleasure as his athletes, from as young as 5 all the way up to 90 years of age, improve their aquatic skills and achieve their swimming goals. Dale started his swimming and coaching careers with a variety of clubs in southern Ontario, and since moving west has stood as Head Coach for the UBC Masters Swim Club, as Head Coach of the Masters/triathlon group with the Canadian Dolphins Swim Club, as Group Lead for a provincial/national-level youth squad with the Vancouver Pacific Swim Club, and organized and coached a series of swim training camps for Masters athletes in Hawaii. Now with Victoria Masters, Dale is looking forward to the next chapter in his coaching career.
Lauren Westmacott – BA, MSCOT – NCCP Level 1 and 2 swimming and Level 1 Water Polo
I came to swimming as most young kids do, because their parents need them to be tired at the end of the day so they will go to sleep at night. We also had a pool in our backyard, so there was some incentive to ensure us kids didn’t drown when mom and dad weren’t watching. That was 30 years ago this past summer and while I can’t say that I always loved endless lengths of the pool, I did always love the friends I made, the fun I had, and being in an outdoor pool under the sun. But somewhere along the way I became a life long swimmer. I love being in the pool, being on the deck, watching people swim, going to meets, and of course the people I get to swim with. And there is the fantastic benefit of being able to eat extra chocolate after burning lots of calories in the pool.
After swimming for several years I started coaching for my home team, the Nanaimo White Rapids, as a volunteer and later as a paid coach. I spent 4 summers coaching there, 1 with the Comox Valley Blue Devils, and 2 with the North Delta Sunfish. I coached through my first degree and spent a few winter seasons working part-time for Island Swimming, Coho, and the Victoria YMCA. When I went away for grad school I left behind a very large part of my life knowing that when I came back I wouldn’t be returning to full time coaching. But luckily my very good friend, Alex Cape, said she had found an awesome team to swim with. I joined VMSC in the fall of 2007 and have loved every season since. I’ve mostly been a swimmer, but over the past two seasons I’ve helped out as a substitute coach. So when the other coaches are off doing fun things, you might see me on deck filling in. My favourite sets tend to be distance ones as I can’t sprint to save my life, but don’t worry, I also like mixing things up so no one gets bored.