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Women swim coaches “take the stage” at national workshop

Last weekend, 12 top female swim coaches from across the country gathered in Ottawa to take part in the first ‘Taking the Stage’ workshop. Presented in partnership with Own the Podium and the Humphrey Group, this conference aimed to aid female coaches to be heard as leaders. The event provided the perfect platform for coaches to share and develop skills that enable them to communicate effectively and confidently.

One participating Alberta swim coach, Wendy Johnson, has been a coach and leader of the Cascade Swim Club in Calgary for over 15 years. As a swimmer, she was a world-record holder and two-time Olympian. Johnson will also be leading the Swim Alberta Discover Camp in April, which will be an opportunity for Alberta coaches to talk about the professional gap between female and male coaches, as well as address the comparatively low number of women in top coaching positions.

Women continue to be absent from head coach roles, especially at the highest levels of sport competition, including University and National coach posts. In 2011, women held only 19 per cent of university sport head coach positions. This lags behind the increase in sport participation by girls and women seen across disciplines. These differences persist at the highest level of competition. Despite having fewer sports in which to compete at the Olympics, Canadian women have consistently qualified in as many events as the men, and brought home roughly the same number of medals for the past two decades. However, only 20 per cent of the Olympic coaches in London were female. Female athletes are not seeing themselves in top coaching positions, and the culture of sport is missing out on insightful, diverse perspectives. This workshop is just one step in one sport toward a Canadian sport culture that is accepting to all.

List of participating coaches:
Janet Hyslop – Ontario
Marta Belsh – New Brunswick
Melanie Melanson – New Brunswick
Tina Hoeben – British Columbia
Vicki Keith – Ontario
Cathy Pardy – Ontario
Mandi Smith – British Columbia
Zoe Miles – Nova Scotia
Annie Wolfe – British Columbia
Wendy Johnson – Alberta
Amélie Poirier – Quebec
Marie Bergeron – Quebec

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