The Nelson Neptune Swim Club has a new head coach and high hopes for the upcoming swim season.
“It’s going to be exciting to have some fresh blood and fresh ideas with the team this year,” said Paul Cowan, the club’s coach liaison.
At just 21, the new head swim coach brings with him a great deal of enthusiasm, but a surprising amount of experience as well.
Swimming since he was six, Andre Kudaba still holds a number of records for the eight and under age group, including two provincial records. He made the junior national teams several times and was also the 100 metre butterfly champion five years in a row.
Recognized as a phenom in his younger years, Kudaba began swimming full-time at 10 in New Westminster.
Over his swimming career, he’s won four gold medals at the Canada Games and after high school he attended the University of Calgary on a swimming scholarship, which is where his swimming career took a different turn.
“I got in a car accident in my second year and it put a stall on everything,” said Kudaba, adding that he already had a few other injuries at the time and recognized it was time to quit.
Coming from an athletic family, Kudaba knows what it takes to succeed.
His father was a BC Lion for eight years, his mother competed in the 1972 Olympics in marathon, his brother is the captain of the Canadian national water polo team and his sister is also a swim coach, who he began coaching with when he was 16.
Kudaba says he’s going to try and help the team get fit and just have fun with racing.
“It’s really about motivation and making the swimmer feel responsible for their own race… the coach is there to help and be a leader,” said Kudaba.
Cowan said through the hiring process they found Kudaba was enthusiastic about training with all the kids in the club.
“I think probably one of the biggest things that appealed to us about him was that he really enjoys training the young kid, the five year olds as well as the 18 year olds. He can do the whole range of ages and he’s very enthusiastic about it,” said Cowan.
“He’s got the experience behind him to know what it takes to swim at a high level, so I think you’re going to see the Neptunes moving up the ranks throughout the summer… we’re really excited.”