Canadian Coaching Carousel: Another Prominent Ontario Club Gets a New Coach

The wheels on the Canadian coaching carousel are turning hard. The latest move is Darren Ward, who has been hired as the new head coach of the Hamilton Aquatic Club.

Ward previously was the head coach of the Markham Aquatic Club, which last week announced the high-profile hiring of Sean Baker as their new head coach. Baker is a former head coach at the Hamilton Aquatic Club, prior to his most recent stop at the Oakville Aquatic Club.

Among other major clubs in the Toronto area, the Newmarket Stingrays hired Dave Ling last week, while Etobicoke is in search of a new head coach after their head coach Kevin Thorburn died.

“I am thrilled and honoured to have the opportunity to be the New Head Coach of the Hamilton Aquatic Club,” Ward said. “HAC has a rich history in Canadian swimming and I am eager to be able to lead the club in a new and exciting direction that will once again move HAC back to prominence. With the support of the Board of Directors, the Coaching Staff and most importantly the swimmers and parents, we will achieve great things.”

The Hamilton Aquatic Club is the 2nd-oldest active club in Canada, having been founded in 1932. It’s located about an hour south of the Markham Aquatic Club, Ward’s former program, in Ontario.

Editor’s note: Island Swimming in Victoria, BC is the oldest, founded in 1913.

The Hamilton Aquatic Club was in its heyday in the 1990s and early 2000s, where they turned out swimmers like Joannae Malar, who was a two-time World Champion in short course, the 1998 Commonwealth Games Champion in the 400 IM, and the 1999 Pan Pacs Champion in both the 200 IM and 400 IM. In total, she won 39 major international medals in her career, and she competed at the 1992, 1996, and 2000 Olympic Games.

Malar still holds 43 club records across all age groups. Also from that era of the Hamilton Aquatic Club is Pan Pacs and Pan Ams bronze medalist in open water Tanya Hunks. The club has produced international-caliber swimmers throughout its history, including names like Sheila Dezeeuw and Frank Despond.

“Hamilton Aquatic Club is very excited and honoured to be able to announce Darren Ward as our new head coach! Darren has demonstrated podium success both in and out of the pool and has been instrumental in developing and rebuilding successful group training structures for over 20 years,” said Elsa Lindfield, the club’s president. “It is this type of innovative and motivated leader that HAC has been looking for. We look forward to what the 2020-2021 season will bring.”


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10 months ago

Island Swimming is in Victoria, BC located on Vancouver Island

Tom Ponting
10 months ago

Edit: Sean Baker was the Head Coach at Oakville.
I don’t say it enough; keep up the great work at SwimSwam, I appreciate the work you are doing!

10 months ago

Also don’t forget other stars coming out of the Hamilton Aquatic Club program – Dennis Corcoran named to the 1980 Olympic Team and Grey Fairley, a member of the 1990 Commonwealth Games Team. Both were coached by Gaye Stratten.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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