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This “Shouts from the Stands” submission comes from Jason Morawski, manager of Oakville Aquatics Club.
Coaches, swimmers, alumni, family and friends of the Oakville Aquatic Club gathered on December 1, 2018 to celebrate the life of Coach Dave Judd, who passed away at the start of the 2018-2019 swim season. Everyone met at the new OAK Headquarters on Invicta Drive, also known as “The Bunker” – a place that Coach Dave helped develop, design and construct. It houses the main offices for staff and coaches as well as two training gyms for OAK swimmers to work on their dryland and strength training.
It is with pride that the Oakville Aquatic Club commemorates Coach Dave’s 17 years of service with a plaque designating the main gym as “The Judd Gym”. This will stand as a reminder to the swimmers to work hard, respect personal effort and achieve their goals.
As a child growing up in Dundas, Ontario, Canada, Coach Dave was very active in many sports and extracurricular activities. In high school, his passion was sailing, and he went on to qualify and compete at Olympic Trials. Later, he achieved his NCCP coaching certification in sailing. Coach Dave did not get into swimming until an accident led him to the water on the advice of medical professionals. He swam while studying psychology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Following graduation, he went on to achieve his certification in sports psychology and personal training. While at McMaster, Dave got into coaching swimming when asked to cover practices for other coaches.
Coach Dave’s coaching career has seen him train over 500 swimmers, from Regional to National level, with four different clubs in Canada: McMaster University, Hamilton-Wentworth Aquatic Club, as head coach at Burlington Masters Swim Club from 1996 – 2012, and as an Age Group coach with the Oakville Aquatic club for 17 years.
Coach Dave had an understanding of his swimmers, not just as athletes, but also as individuals. He took the time to get to know his swimmers and personally connect with each of them. He was astute at recognizing characteristics and attributes in his swimmers that could help or hinder their performance. He encouraged all his swimmers to set both short term and long term swimming and personal goals, and would work with each swimmer to help them achieve what they set out to do. It was important to Dave to make sure that his swimmers had an understanding of the drills or sets he designed and encouraged the swimmers to work hard and take ownership over their swimming.
Dave taught his swimmers many important life lessons on various topics like sports injury, nutrition, and the importance of staying fit. However, one of the most important lessons he taught his swimmers is the importance of swimming and the role it plays in achieving academic excellence. He encouraged everyone to manage their time to ensure that they could succeed both at school and in the water. He could be heard saying, “If you don’t know it by 5 am practice then you will never know it!” He was a firm believer that swimming helped to mentally refocus and alleviate stress and anxiety.
Dave was very “black and white” and had a tendency to just “say it,” whether it was what you wanted to hear or not. He was like this with swimmers, parents, and coaches—you could always count on Dave for the truth. He was a great communicator and would always answer any questions. He would take the time to send out emails to families about his group’s achievements and where he would like to see improvement. He saw swimming not just as something the kids participated in but as a family sport. He expected the same level of commitment from both his swimmers and their families.
Coach Dave had a penchant for remembering names, faces, locations, swims, and swimmers’ times. He was meticulous in logging times from meets and practices and paid close attention to the details. Because of this, he was a great storyteller and would often share stories of his life and adventures with his swimmers. The kids would quite often joke that he would somehow always relate the score from last night’s hockey or baseball game— or the latest adventure with his boys— back to swimming. He loved to share stories of his two boys, Andrew and Thomas, and the swimmers would often ask about them right before the start of a practice in the hopes it would delay them getting in the water.
On December 1st, as everyone gathered to remember Coach Dave, you could see the outpouring of love and respect for him. There were many stories shared about his love of baseball and hockey, about his wife Sandra and their children Andrew and Thomas, about travel meets and the funny things he would say or do. There was talk of his “too-short Dave shorts” and his 20-year-old shoes! But most of all, there was talk of how much he will be missed as a coach, and the impact he has made in the lives of everyone who had the opportunity to get to know him.
The Judd Gym will stand as a testament to his commitment and dedication to OAK and OAK swimmers. Coach Dave, you will be dearly missed.