2019 SWAMMY AWARD: TOM JOHNSON, CANADIAN COACH OF THE YEAR
This year’s Swammy Award for Canadian Coach of the Year goes to Tom Johnson who trains a group of athletes out of the high performance centre in Vancouver, British Columbia. Johnson is a long time coach at Swimming Canada, having coached athletes to numerous Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, and World Championships. Johnson’s current group includes Megan Dalke, Emily Overholt, Ingrid Wilm, Josiah Binnema, Jaren Lefranc, Alex Pratt, Markus Thormeyer, Carson Olafson Haley Black, and Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson. They had a successful 2019, representing Canada at World Champs, World University Games, and Pan Am Games, and in the inaugural season of ISL.
Along with training out of the high performance centre in Vancouver Megan Dalke, Emily Overholt, Ingrid Wilm, Josiah Binnema, Jaren Lefranc, Alex Pratt and Markus Thormeyer also swam for the University of British Columbia with head coach Steve Price for the 2018/2019 season. Both the men’s and women’s teams took their respective banners at the USports finals in February.
Following 2019 Canadian trials in April of 2019, Johnson’s high performance centre shared on instagram that they successfully qualified all 10 of their athletes to swim on three different senior national teams for the summer.
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#CanadianTrials2019 recap: 10/10 #HPCVancouver athletes were nominated to represent 🇨🇦 on Senior National Teams this summer 2019! 2 coaches also selected! World Championships, 🇰🇷 (@fina.gwangju2019) @lilmarquenis @emilyoverholt @josiahbinnema @carsonolafson @_alexander_pratt_ Pan Am Games, 🇵🇪 (@panamgames_2019 ) @erikash24 @haleymlblack World University Games, 🇮🇹 (@fisunetwork ) @jaren.lefranc @ingridwilm @megan_dalke #GoTogether #DeserveSuccess #GoCanada 🇨🇦 #RoadToTokyo 🇯🇵
2016 Olympian Markus Thormeyer is one of Johnson’s top performers, coming out of 2018 with a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games. In 2019, he lead Team Canada to Gwangju for Worlds where he just missed out on the final of the 100 back, finishing 11th. He did, however make the most of a situation when he got scratched into the 200 backstroke semi-final after placing 17th. Thormeyer rocketed to a 1:56.96 for a fifth place finish in the semis and broke Matt Hawes’ 10 year old super suited Canadian record of 1:57.34. Thormeyer went on to finish eighth in the finals. Additionally, Thormeyer swam the 100 free, 4×100-m medley, 4×100-m freestyle and 4×200-m freestyle, finishing 22nd, 10th, 13th and 17th, respectively.
Johnson coached four other athletes to World Champs; Carson Olafson, Josiah Binnema, Alexander Pratt, and Emily Overholt.
HPC Vancouver Results, 2019 World Champs
- Markus Thormeyer: 100 back (11th), 200 back (8th), 100 free (22nd), 4×100 medley (10th), 4×100 free (13th), 4×200 free (17th)
- Carson Olafson: 4×100-m relay free (13th), 4×200 free (17th)
- Josiah Binnema: 100 fly (24th)
- Alexander Pratt: 4×200 free (17th), 200 free (35th)
- Emily Overholt: 4×200 free (bronze, Canadian record), 400 IM (5th)
Johnson’s Haley Black and Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson both represented Canada at the 2019 Pan American Games. Each swam one individual event, with Black finishing 5th in the 100 fly and Seltenreich-Hodgson finishing 6th in the 200 IM. Following Pan Ams, Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson announced her retirement from the sport.
The third national team with members from Johnson’s squad was the 2019 Summer World University Games team that travelled to Naples, Italy. Jaren Lefranc, Megan Dalke and Ingrid Wilm all swam at the meet, with Wilm helping the women’s 4×100 medley relay to win Canada’s sole medal, finishing in third behind the US and Japan.
HPC Vancouver Results, 2019 World University Games
- Megan Dalke: 400 IM (14th), 800 free (10th), 200 fly (17th)
- Jaren Lefranc: 200 breast (28th)
- Ingrid Wilm: 100 back (4th), 50 back (7th), 4×100 medley (bronze)
Thormeyer, Overholt and Black all also raced for the New York Breakers in the first ever season of the International Swimming League this fall. Although the Breakers didn’t make it to the finals, all three Vancouver swimmers scored points in multiple events for their team, including a third place finish by Thormeyer in the 200 backstroke in Budapest.
With the majority of his 2019 national team athletes returning to the high performance centre to train this year, Johnson also picked up 2012 50 freestyle Olympic bronze medalist, Brent Hayden as he made his 2019 comeback after a seven year break. Johnson coached Hayden to the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics and now, Hayden has joined forces with Johnson again as he makes his bid for his fourth Olympic team.
Along with Hayden, many of Johnson’s athletes will be vying for spots on the 2020 Canadian Olympic team.
2019 Canadian National Records By Johnson’s Swimmer
- Markus Thormeyer: SC 200 back – 1:51.57 – ISL Budapest
- Markus Thormeyer: LC 100 back – 53.35 – 2019 Canadian Trials
- Markus Thormeyer: LC 200 back – 1:56.96 – 2019 World Champs
- Markus Thormeyer: LC mixed 4×100 free relay – 3:22.54 – 2019 Worlds
- Emily Overholt: LC women’s 4×200 free relay – 7:44.35 – 2019 Worlds
In no particular order
- Dave Johnson: Like his twin brother Tom, Dave Johnson is a long time Swimming Canada coach and currently coaches at the Cascade Swim Club in Calgary, Alberta. Johnson coaches Cole Pratt and Sebastien Somerset who competed at 2019 World Juniors. Pratt was just off the podium in the 200 back, 0.22 seconds away from bronze. This fall, 17 year old Pratt broke his first senior national record in a breakout performance swim of 1:51.30 at OJI, downing Markus Thormeyer‘s previous mark of 1:51.57. Now in the final stretch towards Olympic trials, Johnson will coach Olympic hopeful Pratt to Canadian trials in April.
- Linda Kiefer and Byron MacDonald: Kiefer and MacDonald coach at the University of Toronto, currently in their 30th and 42nd season, respectively. In 2019, Kiefer and MacDonald coached Kylie Masse to 2019 World Champs where she racked up an impressive three medals. Masse defended her 100 back title from 2017, and earned a bronze in the 200 back and 4×100 medley. Also at Worlds from U of T was Rebecca Smith who also got three medals, all bronze in the 4×100 free, 4×100 medley and 4×200 free relays. Kiefer and MacDonald’s U of T swimmers Cameron Kidd, Matthew Dans, Eli Wall, and Hannah Genich represented Canada at the World University Games.