Before Joanne Malar became an Olympic swimmer, her favourite memories did not come from the daily grind of swimming laps during practice.
The three-time Olympian remembers something else.
“I remember going to the club dance every year because that was a big deal,” said Malar, who replaces Tom Best as the new swim coach for the Summerland Orcas. “I remember going to the wave pool.”
Malar said a lot of clubs get caught up in the usual practice routine and she said it gets boring and tedious for 10-year-old swimmers. Going back and forth for hours just doesn’t cut it.
“The challenges are trying to make it the club I would love to be in when I was that age,” said Malar, of what she wants to do with the Orcas. “Give them basic skills without burning them out.”
She wants to start the year off with fun activities and has plans to take the team tubing at Apex, go on hikes along Giants Head Park and float down the channel.
These activities excite Malar, who will be joined by husband Delano Duchek, also a swimmer, as her assistant.
Malar applied for Best’s position when it became available as he took a job to coach the Grande Prairie Piranhas. Orcas president Colleen Emshay is glad she did.
“When she applied it was just a natural, wonderful transition for her to come in,” said Emshay, as Malar was an assistant for a year-and-a-half. “We’re very fortunate to have her.”
And the kids will be happy to see the familiar face continue to work with them.
“They love her,” added Emshay. “She has a big, bright smile. She congratulates them all on their own personal success. Anything from making that big qualifying time to just making it to the other end of the pool. She celebrates them all equally.”
Emshay added that the 30-time national champion has many positives to teach the kids about “being the best you can be.”
“Even with what she has accomplished in her life, what a wonderful role model for the kids,” she said.
Malar, a mother of two who will also juggle the role of swimming analyst for CTV during the 2012 London Olympics, said the Orcas’ swimming season will begin with an intro to the sport on Sept. 12 and 13. She also has a swim party scheduled for Sept. 16 with the first week of practice beginning the week of Sept. 19.
With all of Malar’s accomplishments, she laughed when asked if her resume helps with having the kids listen.
“Kids are all listening but like anything, you’re just coach Joanne after a while,” she joked. “They know you went to the Olympics but it becomes very normal.”