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Victoria Munro with the North Shore Winter Club's Marlins Swim Team

7 Questions with Marlins Swim Coach Victoria Munro

07/01/2015, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

Just chuck 'em in the pool, right?


Whenever you ask someone what type of marine animal they’d be if they were reincarnated and they say ‘sea otter’, you know that person is in the right field of work. Victoria Munro is one of the Marlins’ newest coaches, and while she might be more comfortable in the water than on land, she’s enjoying barking orders from the pool deck this summer. 

1. Kelvin: Tell us a little bit about your background, how did you get to the club? 

Victoria: I’m from Hamilton, Ontario, I’ve lived there my whole life. I’ve been in the water for as long as I can remember but I started swimming competitively when I was 9. I can understand what the younger swimmers are going through, I was afraid of flip-turns and butterflies so I can empathize with them but I make them do it anyways. I swam varsity at Western, I was the captain this past year. I’ve coached the past 3 summers in Barrie, Ontario. It’s nice when you get a whole summer because you can make steady improvements. 

My aunt lives here, I came to Victoria for nationals last summer and we drove through Vancouver to Whistler. I’ve always wanted to visit, Patrick, who coaches here, I go to school with Patrick and he connected me with Andrew Kemper and I got hired on for the summer. So I’ll go back to school in the fall and then come back next summer hopefully. 

2. What values or character traits do you instil in your athletes? 

At first I wanted to work with the senior group because I thought it would be easier, but at the same time I was drawn to the younger kids so I could build strong habits and a basic foundation at the younger ages. We don’t move on to something more advanced until you’ve nailed something, you can progress after you’re comfortable with a certain skill or technique. Sometimes we have to do pushups or whatnot to learn. 

Wow, no messing around. 

Nope. I also have 3 assistant coaches who help out a lot too. It’s fun, we challenge the kids. 

3. Which age group do you currently work with and what challenges do you face with them?

I have the younger ones so for the most part they’re just starting swimming, they’re in swimming lessons, basically. They’re 6 to 9 years old. We have three subgroups based on ability. They all do mostly the same things, just progressing at different speeds. The big thing is balancing, most of the young kids need fins.

4. What are the toughest three strokes to teach the young kids? 

Butterfly for sure because it takes coordination and strength which the kids don’t normally have at a young age. And then breaststroke because it’s so unnatural. You’re not supposed to move that way so a lot of kids have trouble with that. The small kids have never even seen it. 

Do you have to demo things a lot? Like actually getting in the water? How does that work?

At the beginning I did but now we have junior leaders who get in and do that and I can give feedback on the deck. 

And then a third one, my personal favourite, well least favourite I guess would be backstroke. You don’t know where you’re going, especially outside because you don’t have the lines in the roof to tell you how far you’ve cone. It’s just getting that confidence, which is a central theme at all times and our biggest goal when it comes to teaching the kids. 

5. What’s more demanding, swimming or coaching? 

I feel pressure as a coach because the kids haven’t done these things before and it’s tough to know what the parents expect at the end of the summer. The kids are having fun no matter what and they get better, but the parents are a question mark for sure. The parents will check in and talk which is nice.

You’re the professional, Victoria. As long as the kids get better that’s all that matters. 

(Laughs) I know, I know. 

6. If you could be any type of marine animal, what would it be and do you think this question is weird?  

I think I would be, well I was going to say shark but that could come off as being very aggressive. I think if someone else were to label me they would call me an otter which is very small and timid.

Don’t otters smash their food against rocks to open it up? That doesn’t sound very timid.

People ask me to open their jars actually, so yeah I could do that. Yeah I’ll stick with sea otter. They’re fast, too, they’re more comfortable in the water than on land. 

7. What does the rest of the summer look like for yourself and the Marlins swim team? 

Provincials are the second last week of August and the regionals are before that. Once that’s done I go back to Hamilton for school. One thing I’d like to see is just more legal strokes. They all know what they need to do, it’s just a matter of doing it properly day in and day out. It’s a learning experience when they get disqualified for a legal stroke, they think they can get away with less-than-perfect skills. Other than that we just want to see as many kids as possible qualify for regionals and provincials, but as long as they’re learning then it’s a success. 

We’re like a big family, constantly growing and improving. 

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