André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Martin Lyn is hoping to have a national coach in place for the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) by early next year, but admits that the association quite simply cannot afford one at this point.
The programme has been without a head coach for a while and despite naming a national squad a couple months ago, with the Carifta Swimming Championships fast approaching, the top local-based swimmers are yet to train under the national programme, triggering concern among some supporters and parents.
"The reality is that we cannot afford a national coach right now, but we are relying on the club coaches a lot right now and that's a very good way to springboard the programme anyway, because most of our swimmers come from the clubs," Lyn told The Gleaner in a recent interview.
"We don't have a national coach yet and it's one of the things that we are working towards, but most of the swimmers have been training with their clubs and are still very keen on bringing success to the clubs," Lyn added, before pointing out that his administration will be trying to focus on improving the levels of local coaching, while improving the programme from a holistic perspective.
"The programme is taking a little longer to tweak because we are trying to build it from the core out in terms of, for instance, we are ensuring that all our coaches are certified and we think that's the right step," Lyn reasoned.
He added that he will be looking to utilise the experience of Jamaican Olympians such as Janelle Atkinson and Angela Chuck in specialised coaching clinics and camps.
"We are also bringing down more coaches to do clinics, like athletes such as Janelle Atkinson, (Angela) Chuck and so on, who have represented us in previous Olympics. We will be bringing them down to Jamaica to conduct clinics here, and these are some of the programmes that we are putting in place in the meantime," he noted.
But what about getting a coach in place for the national programme itself?
Lyn believes that the ASAJ should be in a position to make an appointment next year and with the Carifta Championships set for late March, regular offers from interested parties will serve as needed encouragement for Lyn and his team.
"It's (hiring a national coach) a major priority for us," Lyn noted. "We are anticipating that by about next year we will have all our ducks in a row, including a way to finance a national programme.
"It's more than bringing in a coach, we have to bring in that coach with a programme, ensure that the pool is operational and also ensure that our local coaches can benefit from a national coach," he added, noting that there is no particular preference in terms of whether the coach comes from the local pool or overseas.
"We are looking both overseas and locally. We have had a few people that have shown an interest from overseas, we get emails regularly from persons who would like to come here to work with the programme," said Lyn.
Jackie Walter was the last long-term national head coach, but after stepping down in 2010, individuals such as Nathan Brown and Wendy Lee have been used as interim options at championship events.