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Duncan Stingrays new assistant coach making his mark

The addition of a new assistant coach to the Duncan Stingrays ranks seems to have already paid off.

Brent Forsyth joined head coach Leanne Sirup at the start of this competitive season, and swimmers from the club are singing his praises, including one who has qualified for the first time for a Regional Training Camp.

“I love how Brent coaches,” said Mary Paridaen vanVeen. “I love every practice that he does.”

Paridaen vanVeen, 11 is one of three Stingrays who have been invited to the SwimBC Regional Training Camp this coming weekend. The top 12-and-under female swimmers and 13-and-under male swimmers from across Vancouver Island will convene at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre for the camp on Nov. 5 and 6, the first time the camp has been held outside of Victoria.

VanVeen called it “a real honour” to be invited.

“It means a lot,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d actually make it to this big of an event.”

VanVeen will be joined at the camp by a pair of 13-year-old boys from the Duncan club: Olin Dahlstrom and Dylan Kruger.

This is the second time Kruger has been invited.

Later this month, from Nov. 25-27, another Stingray, Oliver Castle, will attend the SwimBC Prospects Training Camp on the Lower Mainland for the top male swimmers born in 2001 and 2002 in B.C. and the Yukon, based on their top three national rankings.

Forsyth comes to the Duncan Swim Club after coaching in Fort McMurray last year. The massive wildfire that consumed Fort McMurray in May spurred his return to the Island, where the Victoria native started coaching in 1978.

“With the fire, it was sort of evident that the club was going to have to rebuild, and wouldn’t need someone with my skill set,” he said. “At this stage in my career, I thought I would come and assist Leanne.”

Forsyth has coached across Canada and has had success with swimmers of all ages and abilities, including junior national champions, senior national qualifiers and Olympic trials qualifiers.

“The Duncan club under Leanne’s leadership has been stable and growing the last few years,” he pointed out.

“I thought it would be a wonderful place to coach. It’s a great group of kids, with supportive parents, and it’s a good, well-used facility. It’s a hotbed for young swimmers.

“The mandate of the club is really good. It’s a mandate of inclusion, and that’s a real reflection of what this community is. Kids need to be able to swim, no matter what direction their life goes. For me, it’s a real microcosm of what life is.”