The eagerly awaited start date of High Performance Swim Coach – Brad Harris – joining the Artemis Aquatics team as Program Manager and Head Coach coincided with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of all facilities. Whilst this meant a delayed start to Brad getting to his happy place on pool deck and getting to know our community face to face, the past few weeks have afforded Brad the time to plan, review and redevelop our Learn to Swim framework and Squad pathways.
Brad will be familiar to many members of the Melbourne Girls Grammar community already, having coached a large number of our students and families during his time as State/National coach at Vicentre. As we look forward to our return to Artemis and re-booting of sport, I thought I would take the time to chat with Brad to learn a bit more about him, his coaching journey and his love for swimming.
What do you love about swimming?
I love that Swimming is not only great for health benefits, but it is a sport for life. I love that anyone of any age can jump into the water whether it’s to exercise, to compete or to have fun.
Tell us about your swimming journey? Where did you learn to swim, and do you have any favourite moments or stories to share from your training or competitive experiences as a swimmer?
I learnt to swim in my hometown of Warrnambool, however I never desired to become a great swimmer. Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I noticed the sports I excelled in were the ones that had great coaches who invested in their athletes. I represented the school swimming team, trained with the squad yet my interest was in basketball and squash.
How did your swim coaching career begin?
My first coaching experience was in sports aerobics. I was asked to coach a primary school team of 8 grade 5/6 students. I had zero coaching experience or knowledge of the sport and I had to quickly learn. Taking on a group of girls who had little to no athleticism, sense of rhythm, strength or flexibility, I was able to create a team that learnt to perform and who believed in themselves in achieving their goal. After 12 months working with the team, they competed and achieved 3rd place at States. I strongly believe that with encouragement and support from your coach, athletes will perform at their best.
Why do you coach?
I love to see swimmers gain confidence and continue to improve. I aim to always encourage and inspire people to believe that they can achieve anything in life through hard work and dedication.
Do you have a coaching philosophy?
In order to achieve your goal, you need to have self-belief. I believe this creates motivation, drive and willingness to work. To empower and encourage all swimmers that they can achieve anything they put their mind to.
What kind of environment do you aim to create on pool-deck?
An environment that’s welcoming and encouraging. I am an enthusiastic and positive person and the staff at Artemis Aquatics will share this atmosphere on pool deck.
What has been your proudest achievement to date as a swim coach?
Placing 4 swimmers on their first ever World Championship Games in 2015, Ahmed Kelly, Tanya Huebner, Ashley McConnel and Monique Murphy. Each athlete had a different disability, different event and were all unique requiring individual training and coaching. I was responsible for over 100 athletes during this time and was able to manage their progression as well as my elite athletes.
What inspires you?
Swimmers who find their confidence and willingness to give it a go. I love to see swimmers progress into confident and strong swimmers through their dedication in training and positivity.
Is there a coach (could be a swim coach or a coach of another sport) you have learnt the most from? What did you learn?
Throughout my coaching, I have met some inspirational coaches. From my first coach- my dad, teaching me as a young boy to always treat everyone the same to working with Olympic coaches such as Ian Pope, Craig Jackson and Jol Finck who taught me the fundamentals of elite coaching.
… AND FOR SOME RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS…
What would the name of your debut album be?
Eye of the camera
If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?
Dory… I am friendly, optimistic and can be forgetful!
What is the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
I used to DJ with my dad for about 16 years doing weddings and birthday parties.
Nickname your parents called you growing up?
What is your favourite season?
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why?
GO HARD OR GO HOME!