Etobicoke’s Rob Novak Set To Join HPC-Ontario Staff As Assistant Coach

Rob Novak will join Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre – Ontario staff as an assistant coach next month, the organization announced Monday.

Novak will assume the role in November after wrapping up his duties with the Etobicoke Swim Club, where he currently serves as the head coach.

“I’m honored and excited to be part of HPC-Ontario and looking forward to working with everyone,” said Novak.

“I hope to bring a strong work ethic to Canada’s purpose to be world-class, top six nation at the world stage. I’m looking forward to collaborating and building a program that can be a source of pride for all Canadian swimming, clubs and alumni.”

Novak has guided several athletes up to the Olympic level, including Etobicoke swimmers Ruslan Gaziev and Katrina Bellioto the Tokyo Games last summer. Another Etobicoke product, Summer McIntosh, also made the 2020 Canadian Olympic team, though she never worked directly under Novak.

Novak returned to Etobicoke, one of the country’s top clubs, in July 2020 following the sudden death of former head coach Kevin Thorburn. Prior to that, Novak had worked under Thorburn as the head age group coach with ESWIM from 2008 until 2012.

Novak also spent two seasons as the head coach of Manta Swim Club in Winnipeg (2018-20), and was the head coach of Markham Aquatic Club (MAC) from 2012 to 2018. His time at MAC included coaching Javier Acevedo to the 2016 Olympic team, and he also aided in the development of Olympic medalist Kayla Sanchez.

During the pandemic, McIntosh transferred to HPC-Ontario to train as Etobicoke’s main facility was closed for maintenance, leaving Etobicoke with only a 25-meter pool to train in. Despite the difficulties, Novak helped train Gaziev and Bellio to the Olympic team.

“It wasn’t easy during the pandemic to have two Olympians in a 25-m pool, that’s the biggest highlight (of my career) I think,” Novak said. “I would hope to say I’m a disciplined but supportive coach. I care about getting the athletes to the next level, collaborating with them and driving them throughout the process. I’m more process driven than outcome.”

In addition to his success with some of Canada’s biggest clubs, Novak has also served on international team staffs, including working as the head women’s coach at the 2022 Junior Pan Pacific Championships and serving on the staff at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

At HPC-Ontario, Novak will work alongside Ryan Mallette, who was officially named head coach this summer after previously working on an interim basis.

The vast majority of Canada’s top swimmers have trained out of HPC – Ontario over the last two years, including McIntosh, Penny OleksiakKylie Masse, Taylor Ruck, Josh Liendo, Yuri Kisil, Kayla Sanchez and Maggie MacNeil.

However, several top names aren’t currently there, with Liendo, Ruck and MacNeil at school in the NCAA, Masse hinting she’s moved to Spain to possibly train under former HPC-Ontario coach Ben Titley, Kisil moving to Calgary and Sanchez changing her sporting citizenship and moving to the Philippines.

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3 months ago

Coach Novak is a very positive force on deck when he travels with the jr and sr national teams. I don’t know what I would do without his support. That being said, I don’t know why he made this move, given he propelled numerous ESwim swimmers onto national (jr and sr) in the past couple years. Seems like an odd move, he may just be following Jansen at this point.

Mental health is important
3 months ago

Let’s balance negativity with some positive information! If Coach Novak is seen sometimes as harsh, it’s only because he expects from his senior kids level of professionalism that some of them are not capable or willing to deliver. And it’s ok, as not every athlete shoots very high and doesn’t want to be pushed, hence chances of misunderstanding.
It takes time to start producing fast swimmers after assuming a head coach position, especially right now in Ontario where kids were locked out of pools for 1.5 year!!! And yet, eswim under COach Novak has now an amaizing black swimmer, 14 yo Antoine Destang or Max Malakhovets who at barely 17 yo finaled in 2 events at Trials. Both kids… Read more »

Reply to  Mental health is important
3 months ago

And to be honest Canada has a major shortage of senior coaches. It’s going to become a huge problem in the next couple years if it already hasn’t.

Novak seems to have jumped around a lot the last 5 years so hoping he settles in and has a good run at hpc.

Covid set back Canada many years – a few kids broke through but many unfort did not.

Bc tough
3 months ago

Whose going to be HC of ESWIM now?

John A
3 months ago

Ryan Mallette and this guy… what could go wrong?

3 months ago

I remember being yelled at by this guy at Age Groups in Montreal because I got in the way of one of his swimmers doing pace work… plot twist, he told his swimmer the wrong circle direction.

Canada is going to have a couple tough years I think developing the young swimmers, a lot of athletes left swimming during the tough covid lockdowns and pools being closed.

3 months ago

I’m confused by this move by swim Canada. It seems like a sinking ship….😢

3 months ago

It would be great to be able to follow SNCs HP swimmers as a fan of they would announce or at least keep an updated list of where they are.

Taylor Stanford, returning to hpc in….
Joshua Florida, returning to hpc…
Sydney Tampa…
Penny hpc Toronto
Markus retired? Sabbatical?
Finlay HPC Toronto
Hau Li hpc Vancouver
Kylie Spain

Current hpc lists on snc website way out of date.

Canadian Observer
3 months ago

I wouldn’t give him credit for Javi, if you speak to him you know why.

Reply to  Canadian Observer
3 months ago

how about Kayla?

Mat Boner
Reply to  Canadian Observer
3 months ago

Back in 2016, I believe Novak extended his hand to those families from Ajax to help them through the season and achieve their goals. From what I remember it was very hard for Novak as the swimmers were not use to the work that needed to be done to get to the next level. Javi is a great guy, but he went from 55 high to 53.8 and made the team on the day.

Reply to  Mat Boner
3 months ago

And his back times have gone the other way ever since! Is it his fault or UGA?

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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