The University of Canberra has dived into the pool as they glide towards becoming the biggest and best sporting university in the nation, with the launch of an inaugural swim club led by a legendary Olympic coach.
The UC Swim Club was launched yesterday (28 February) at the AIS Pool, with Tracey Menzies appointed as the head coach of the club.
Menzies coached Ian Thorpe to gold in the 400 and 200m freestyle – which was billed as the race of the century – at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and will now bring her wealth of experience to local adult swimmers.
Starting out as a ‘learn to swim’ coach before taking on arguably one of the biggest challenges in world sport – coaching one of Australia’s greatest Olympic athletes, she will now go back to the basics and put adult aged swimmers through their paces at the AIS.
The club will provide high-level swimming coaching for all aspects of swimming; from training for pool competitions to water polo, triathlon to open water and surf competitions. UC’s Director of Sport Carrie Graf said the aim of the program is to provide elite level training to adult-aged swimmers both from within UC but also to the wider Canberra community.
The club will also provide Water Safety Awareness programs to UC’s International students, which will also be run by Menzies.
Graff said the opportunity to create a Swim Club with Menzies was too good an opportunity to pass by.
“When a coach of that ilk, is on the market, it is too good an opportunity to not look at,” Graff told Region Media.
“Her breadth of experience from working with kids to Olympic gold medals really fitted what we are about here, providing sport for all levels.
“We have student-athletes here at UC who are swimmers. Hayley Baker, who is a Commonwealth Games swimmer, is a student here but we also have another six or seven students that swam when they were in high school but study got the better of them, so this provides them with an opportunity to get back into the pool.”
UC will run their swim club out of the AIS, and will also use pools at CISAC and the new pool facilities at the ANU.
“Obviously we don’t have a pool on campus but nor do we need one,” she said. “We will hire out the AIS, which is only a footy kick across the road. In terms of access to world-class facilities as well as ‘learn to swim’ facilities, we have three great venues right in our precinct.”
The swimming program will help UC’s bid to become a world leader in sport as the campus becomes home to more elite sport programs, with the Brumbies and reigning WNBL champions UC Capitals and Canberra United running their programs from the Bruce campus.
“As part of building our sporting program, we look at what we are specialists at and who and what do we have the opportunity to partner with,” Graff said.
“Having Tracey Menzies start a swim school for UC speaks volumes about what we are trying to do here, not just with high-performance but sport and physical activity across the board.”