Swimming Canada has announced the hiring of 41-year old Scott Talbot to lead the High Performance Center – Vancouver. Talbot brings a pedigree as both a two-time Olympic swimmer and the child of two of history’s great swim coaches.
Don Talbot has served as a head coach of both the Australian and Canadian National Teams in some of the most successful periods in each countries’ history. Jan Cameron has a big legacy of her own as a coach, especially in the Para world, and is herself a 1964 Olympic silver medalist.
The center, based out of the University of British Columbia’s new aquatic center, has long been a major center for some of the country’s top talent, though over the last few years much of that shifted east to Ben Titley at the HPC in Toronto.
With Titley gone to Spain this summer, Swimming Canada will try to repeat that success by looking outside of its own borders once again to fill a vacancy in its High Performance Center system. While Scott Talbot lived in Canada for part of his childhood, he represented Australia internationally and lived there and New Zealand for most of his life.
Talbot represented New Zealand at a number of international events, including the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games. He won a bronze medal at the 2000 Oceania Swimming Championships, a minor international competition.
As a coach, he followed in his mom’s footsteps at the North Shore Swim Club beginning in 2003. He also worked in New Zealand’s High Performance Centre in Auckland. In 2013, he became the senior coach at the University of Sydney, and attended the 2012 Olympics as a national coach for New Zealand.
In 2013, he returned to New Zealand to work at the University of Sydney and in 2016 became the high performance coach at the Nunawading Swimming Club in Melbourne, Australia.
Among the swimmers he coach at Nunawading were Tokyo 2020 Olympic medalists Brendon Smith and Matthew Temple during the rise of their careers. After the delay of the Games, Talbot would eventually leave the program in September 2020 to become the Director of Swimming and head coach at the Repton Swimming Club in Derbyshire, UK.
Talbot says he’s always maintained a connection to Canada, and learned many things from watching his parents coach.
“The two most important characteristics I learned from watching my parents operate were to be a great communicator and to work as a team in getting the best results. In swimming today, the most important quality for a high-level coach to have is to be a great communicator, and being able to use many different tools to get the best out of people,” Talbot said. “Also in today’s world, where the level of competition is so high, getting the best results are achieved through effective teamwork. Having a team of people around you who you can trust and deliver for one another will get you the result faster.”
“As someone who works in swimming and knows the sport, it is easy to see the commitment from Swimming Canada to establish itself as one of the top swimming nations in the world,” Scott Talbot said. “Personally, I am excited to have the opportunity work alongside some of the best support staff and coaches in the world.”
“Swimming Canada conducted an international search for coaching talent at our two High Performance Centres, and we are delighted to have Scott move into this role. He will bring a fresh drive and enthusiasm to build the centre to Paris 2024 and ultimately to Los Angeles 2028. As well as his own Olympic credentials, he has coached swimmers who have competed at the past four Olympic Games and has coached at five world championships. His experience will be a great asset for the Swimming Canada HPC-Vancouver,” said High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson.
He will lead a full complement of full-time staff at the centre including Assistant Coach Mandy Bell, Performance Scientist Coach Tom Vandenbogaerde, and Performance Analyst Graham Olson.
The HPC in Vancouver has been in a state of flux since long-timer head coach Tom Johnson retired in 2020. The center opened in 1998 and has produced multiple international medalists, including Martha McCabe, Emily Overholt, Brent Hayden and open water swimmer Richard Weinberger. Current swimmers listed on the roster at the center include Raben Dommann, Hau-Li Fan, Danielle Hanus, Emma O’Croinin, and Markus Thormeyer. Hau-Li Fan (open water) and Thormeyer represented Canada at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, though Thormeyer didn’t compete this summer while focused on his PhD work.
Swimming Canada says that more names are expected to join the HPC Vancouver this fall.
“The High Performance Centres in Ontario and Vancouver will be a key part of our national program strategy toward the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games,” Atkinson said. “The appointment of Scott along with Ryan Mallette’s recent confirmation as Performance Head Coach at the HPC-Ontario puts our Performance Head Coaches in place to lead the centres. There will now be a recruitment process undertaken for an Assistant Coach for the HPC-Ontario and more details will follow on this process.”
The High Performance Centers in Vancouver and Toronto are the only two remaining after the 2019 closure of a third center in Victoria. Mallette, who is now the head coach in Toronto, was previously the head coach in Victoria.
Don Talbot was born in Australia and was a coach of the Australian men’s Olympic Team at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Games. He then left for Canada to coach the Thunder Bay Thunderbolts Swim Club and work with the Canadian National Team.
In 1980, he was named the inaugural director of the Australian Institute of Sport, securing the organization’s financial stability. He then returned to Canada in 1983 where he built the country’s most successful international era until recently. He was ultimately dismissed a few months before the 1988 Games over conflicts surrounding qualification standards.
He then returned to Australia as National Head Coach, where the team had more success.
Scott Talbot is the lone offspring of Don’s marriage to Jan Cameron, who is Don’s second of three wives. Cameron (nee Murphy) coached with her husband in Australia, Canada, and the United States, and then eventually to New Zealand. She served on multiple staffs for Australia at the Paralympic Games, and in 1991 took over New Zealand’s North Shore Swimming Club and developed it into the powerhouse that it is today.
As an athlete, she won a silver medal at the 1964 Olympic Games as a member of Australia’s 400 free relay team.
Cameron died in 2017 and Don Talbot died in 2020.