An alum of the Pacific Sea Wolves is officially taking the reins of the Semiahmoo Peninsula-based swim club.
This month, the club – which has operated in the area since 1977, originally under the Semiahmoo Marlins banner – announced that Jy Stewart will take over as the club’s permanent head coach. Stewart, who has been an assistant coach with the club since 2011, has served in the role on an interim basis since May.
“I’m very, very excited. This is something I’ve been working towards for the last 12 years, since I started coaching,” Stewart told Peace Arch News Friday.
Stewart’s roots with the Sea Wolves run deep, having swam with the club from 2002 until 2012. From 2007 until 2011, while still a PSW member, she also swam with the University of Calgary, winning nationals with her team from ‘08 until ‘11.
In a club-circulated email announcing the coaching appointment, PSW said Stewart has “consistently demonstrated an impressive level of commitment both to our club and to our swimmers.”
It was while competing in Calgary that she first got the coaching bug, she said. In addition to time spent training for her own competitions – not to mention hours spent in the classroom, working toward her degree in kinesiology – Stewart managed to carve out time during the season to coach younger swimmers in the Calgary area.
“Our varsity scheduling worked really well – we were done (training) by four o’clock, and that’s when the kids get out of school and would be swimming,” she explained.
After graduation, Stewart returned home to the Sea Wolves and amped up her training, with an eye on a top spot at Canadian Olympic Trials in which spots at the 2012 Games were up for grabs. Even then, she kept coaching a priority.
“We worked my schedule so I could coach the young guys,” said Stewart, who retired from competitive swimming after the trials.
Her love of coaching and managing goes beyond the pool, as well, she said. In fact, it’s just sort of a ‘built-in’ trait.
“Coaching is kind of a perfect fit for me. I’m a super analytical person. When I was swimming, I knew everyone who was in my race,” she said.
“I knew how they started, how they finished. I knew if there was a girl who, if I didn’t go out (strong), I wasn’t going to be able to catch her, or I’d know if there was someone who was strong late, who would be able to take me down at the end if I didn’t have something in the tank.”
Away from the pool, Stewart has also been a weightlifting coach, yoga instructor and Crossfit coach, too.
“Everything I’ve done, I end up coaching at some point,” she laughed.
And though she has plenty of coaching experience to this point, her new, permanent post will still involve a significant learning curve, especially away from the pool.
“The coaching part, I’m very comfortable with. But the managing of a club, which is part of the head coach’s job, is a totally new undertaking,” she said.
She said she’ll lean on some of her previous coaches for expertise, including former PSW coach Brad Dingey, who now coaches in Victoria.
“There will be some phone calls for advice, for sure,” she said.
As the interim coach this past summer, Stewart enjoyed watching her young pupils grow and gain experience. PSW, which is based out of both the South Surrey Indoor Pool as well as the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre, currently has “a ton” of swimmers in the eight- to 11-year-old range, she said, as well as a handful even younger.
“We have a pretty solid base (of older swimmers) at the top end, too,” she added.
One of the highlights of the season was watching some of those more polished swimmers competing at Canada junior championships in Calgary last July.
“It was almost everyone’s first junior championship, so it was a good experience, for sure.”