2023 Swammy Awards: Canadian Coach of the Year – Carl Simonson

See all of our 2023 Swammy Awards here.


The University of Calgary Swim Club (UCSC) continued its impressive run of churning out elite age group performances in 2023, landing Carl Simonson Canadian Coach of the Year honors for the first time.

Simonson, the assistant head coach and National group coach at UCSC, led homegrown talent Lorne Wigginton to a breakout performance last year that included a World Championship berth and a pair of medals at World Juniors.

Wigginton dropped over three seconds en route to winning the men’s 400 IM at the Canadian Trials in March, clocking 4:16.14 to knock more than two seconds off the decade-old National Age Group Record for 15-17 boys.

That put the now 18-year-old on the Canadian team for the 2023 World Championships, where he unleashed another sizeable best time and NAG record in 4:13.75 to finish ninth overall, nine-tenths shy of a berth in the final.

Just one week later, Wigginton and his UCSC teammates went to the Canadian Championships (LCM) in Toronto, where four of Simonson’s swimmers combined to break a pair of relay NAG records.

Laon KimAiden NormanPaul Dardis and Wigginton clocked 3:22.67 in the 400 free relay and 7:23.48 in the 800 free relay, both marking new Canadian NAG records in the boys’ 15-17 age group.

Kim also set Alberta Provincial Records and became the fastest 15-year-old of all-time in numerous events, including ripping a time of 50.39 in the 100 free.

Simonson also qualified Wigginton, Norman, Dardis and Kamryn Cannings for the World Junior Swimming Championships in September—though Cannings ended up withdrawing.

All three UCSC swimmers who went to Netanya walked away with two medals, highlighted by Wigginton claiming a pair of individual bronzes in the 200 IM (1:59.44) and 400 IM (4:12.81). He set new NAG records in both events, and added another in the 400 free (3:49.05), where he finished fourth.

Norman and Dardis both won a pair of bronze medals on Canada’s boys’ and mixed 400 free relays, and also combined to make three individual finals, with Norman narrowly missing a medal in the 200 back in fourth.

At the Ontario Junior International meet (SCM) in December, Norman, Kim, Dardis and another swimmer Simonson coaches, Nicholas Duncan, set new 15-17 NAG records in the boys’ 400 free and 400 medley relays for UCSC, while Kim, Dardis, Norman, Duncan, Maxine Clark and Jordan Greber also set Alberta Provincial Records individually.

Wigginton has shifted to the High Performance Centre in Toronto as of September, and Cannings is now racing with Liberty University in the NCAA, but Simonson will continue to work his magic with the rest of UCSC’s age group swimmers in 2024.


  • Scott Talbot, HPC Vancouver — Talbot heads up the burgeoning High Performance Centre in Vancouver, having led James Dergousoff and Emma O’Croinin to berths at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka. Dergousoff in particular had a noteworthy swim at the Canadian Trials in the men’s 200 breast, moving to #2 all-time in the country with his lifetime best of 2:10.01. Another swimmer training under Talbot, Raben Dommann, made significant progress in 2023, dropping a time of 1:58.64 in the 200 back at the Canadian Championships that ultimately led him to a berth at the 2024 World Championships. One of Canada’s top swimmers last year, Finlay Knox made the move to join Talbot in Vancouver midway through the year and found plenty of success, winning gold at the Pan Am Games in October in the men’s 200 IM while also placing fourth in the 100 fly and contributing some key relay splits. Blake Tierney won bronze in the men’s 200 back in Santiago, while Danielle Hanus picked up an individual medal of her own in the women’s 100 back. Dergousoff, Dommann, Knox, Tierney, O’Croinin and Hau-Li Fan give Talbot six swimmers on the 2024 World Championship team next month.
  • Jason Brockman, Vernon Kokanee Swim Club — Perhaps the breakout Canadian performer of the year, Brockman coached Alexanne Lepage to a pair of surprise World Junior Championship titles in the girls’ breaststroke events. Lepage dropped two and a half seconds in the 100 breast (1:06.58) and six in the 200 breast (2:24.70) en route to winning both races at World Juniors in September, and she also took fourth in the 50 breast after hitting a big PB in the prelims (30.82). Lepage’s swim in the 200 breast marked a new Canadian NAG record for 15-17 girls, while her performance in the 100 breast was five one-hundredths shy of the super-suited mark held by former 50-meter world record holder Amanda Reason. Lepage’s performances at World Juniors puts her in position to vie for the wide-open breaststroke spot on the Canadian medley relay this year at the Olympics. After World Juniors, Lepage joined the University of Calgary under coach Mike Blondal but the giant leaps she made this year were developed under Brockman. Lepage has continued to thrive early in her university career, winning four Canada West titles in November with new SCM bests in the 100 breast (1:06.12), 200 breast (2:25.49), 200 IM (2:12.74) and 400 IM (4:42.43).


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3 months ago

This is well deserved. Carl has been a driving force for developing swimmers in Alberta & Canadian swimming. His program and passion for his athletes create the drive for these results.

Bo Swims
3 months ago

Way to go Carl. 🦖💪🏻🏊🏼‍♂️🏊🏻‍♀️

DEI Grifter
3 months ago

Big congrats to Simonson! Well-earned!

Any thought of giving Honorable Mention nods to the American coaches who train the Canadians MacIntosh, Oleksiak, and Ruck?

Reply to  DEI Grifter
3 months ago

Because coaches and athletes are geographically mobile, the jurisdiction of these awards can be complicated. We have discussed that yes, but then we would have to omit those athletes from consideration when deciding US coaches of the year, so they don’t get double counted.

We don’t have a hard-and-fast rule about it, so we start with geography (so Ben Titley used to be eligible, even as a non-Canadian, because he coached in Canada), and then look for edge cases as you described. In those edge cases, we sort of evaluate ‘did this person have a big enough impact on a certain country’s results or continent’s to qualify.’

So for example, if Titley had taken 4 Canadians with him to Spain,… Read more »

DEI Grifter
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Thanks for your detailed explanation of your Swammy selection criteria, Braden.

It sounds a lot more objective (and transparent) than the standards used to pick Pulitzers or Nobel Prizes for Literature!

Sous Vide Swimmer
Reply to  DEI Grifter
3 months ago

Or Nobel prize for Peace!

Yeah, right
3 months ago

Lorne is still not listed as training at Toronto, while Finlay Knox is somehow training at both HPC-Ontario and HPC-Vancouver, according to swimming.ca. Isn’t it time to update your website, Swimming Canada?

3 months ago

Will be interesting to see how he develops Laon. Especially after all the HYACK comments about overtraining young talent on the other post recently.

Reply to  ScovaNotiaSwimmer
3 months ago

That is rich coming from Hyack.

Reply to  KimJongSpoon
3 months ago

Sorry, I meant comments about HYACK overtraining young talent.

Rick Paine
3 months ago

Excellent coach and Lorne will be one to watch on the world stage.

Rick Paine
Reply to  Rick Paine
3 months ago

Carl has been turning out great swimmers for years

3 months ago

Incredibly deserved, and highly notable this breaks a 10-year streak of SwimSwam giving this award to an HPC coach. Combination of a historically successful age group program at UCSC right now, and some really underwhelming performances from HPC swimmers the last couple of years. Expecting to see some HPC coach shakeups post Paris unless the current ones can break the trend this year.

Reply to  OldManSwims
3 months ago

Hello Bitterness, my old friend

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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