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Meet the Coaches

Meet the Coaches

HTAC is fortunate to have one of the largest, most highly experienced and educated coaching staffs in Canada! Our coaches have a strong history in competitive swimming and hold a multitude of coaching certifications.

The entire HTAC coaching staff aspires to work as a professional team, striving to provide a positive learning and training environment for the Trojan athletes. Our coaches supply a structured and progressive training system that is appropriate for the athlete’s age and ability level, and that adheres to the Canadian Sport for Life Long-Term Athlete Development Model.

Important skills such as teamwork, problem solving and visualization, as well as goal setting and process orientated performance are emphasized in order to achieve common goals.

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” - Albert Einstein

Coach Mark -

Coach Mark McGrann begins his second season as Head Coach of Halifax Trojan Aquatic Club. 

Born and raised in Ireland Coach Mark was Assistant Head Coach with Lisburn City Swim Club before moving to Chena Swim Club in North Vancouver as Senior and Assistant Head Coach. 

Mark’s belief is that competitive swimming provides a unique outlet for young, ambitious, energetic athletes to learn life lessons about health, hard work, body awareness, dedication, personal growth and above all, how to deal honourably with both success and failure. Each day he enlivens athletes to support each other and participate fully in creating a positive team environment. Mark encourages swimmers to relish the opportunities that competitive swimming affords and to develop the resilience that will enhance both their swimming careers and their wider aspirations.

Coach Mark’s message to the athletes is, "Be the best you can be". He proclaims that winning involves more than the achievement of first place but rather the fulfillment of an enduring personal objective. Mark strives to create a positive, enthusiastic environment that attracts dynamic coaches, committed swimmers and engaged, proud parents.

Coach Bill -

Coach Bill Durrant has many years of coaching experience in Ontario and his Swimmers have a rich tradition of excellence at all levels of competition. Bill is a native of Toronto and a NCCP Level III coach.

Since relocating to Nova Scotia, Coach Bill has continued his successful Coaching with the Halifax Trojans where his Swimmers have set Nova Scotia provincial records, been selected to the 2017 Canada Games and qualified for Eastern Canadian and Junior Canadian championships.  

Coach Bill is beginning his fourth year with the Trojans and is the Lead Coach of the Senior Blue Group.

Coach Mat -

We are very excited to welcome Coach Mat Bernier to our Team! Mat is a former Trojan and Dalhousie University athlete who has been developing his coaching career for the previous seven years. 

During that time, Mat has achieved various coaching awards including Swim Nova Scotia’s Summer Swimming Assistant Coach of the Year and Head Coach of the Year on two occasions. Following his Summer Club coaching successes, Mat progressed to year-round competitive coaching in 2018 and this season he takes on his new position with the Trojans.

Coach Mat's message to the swimmers and members of the Trojan's is that he "loves swimming, and coaching is a great way for me to keep in the sport that was very rewarding for me, while also giving back to my community. I look forward to this season with Halifax Trojan Aquatic Club and getting to know the swimmers, families and staff".

Mat studied Earth Sciences at Dalhousie University and has aspirations to transition into Sport Management and Psychology studies in the coming years. When Mat isn't on a pool-deck he enjoys photography, hiking and cooking.

Coach Mat’s coaching positions for the 2019-2020 season are that of Junior Blue Lead Coach and Assistant Coach for the Youth Blue and White Groups.

Coach Phil -

Coach Phillip Evans is the most recognizable and longest standing coach with the Trojans.

With over 30 years of experience in swimming, having held several Head Coach positions in British Columbia, England and Nova Scotia, Coach Phil has inspired and shared his love of swimming with hundreds of athletes, young and old.

Passionate, quick witted and constantly on the lookout for new technological methods and equipment, Phil is always trying something new to help communicate race strategies, stroke development, and the fundamentals of swim training to all Trojan swimmers.

Coach Phil’s coaching responsibilities for the 2019-2020 season are primarily that of Youth Blue & Aspire Lead Coach.

Coach Alex -

Alex Vragovic is returning to Halifax Trojan Aquatic Club pool deck for her second season. Alex is about to embark on her fourth year of the Kinesiology program at Dalhousie University.

With 11 years of competitive swimming experience, both at the Club and Varsity level, and a current employee of with Swim Ontario, Alex is very excited about her new role with the Trojans, “I am looking forward to approaching the sport from a coaching role. I look forward to positively influencing my swimmers, the same way my coaches did for me”. Alex has had various Coaching positions in both Ontario and with the Trojans.

Coach Alex’s coaching responsibilities for the 2019-2020 season are that of Youth White Group Lead Coach, and Assistant Coach to Youth Blue.

Coach Eben -

Coach Eben Tebay is returning to the Trojans for his second season. Eben’s introduction to competitive swimming began as a Summer Swimmer and from then his passion developed for competitive swimming resulting in an eleven-year swimming career.

Influenced by encouraging coaches that helped develop him as an athlete, Eben continued his involvement with sport and currently studies Kinesiology at Dalhousie University, and is a member of the Dal Tigers Men’s Varsity Team. Eben aspires to expand his studies and education in his pursuit of further coaching qualifications and has coaching philosophy of engaging with swimmers with the same encouraging attitude that was shown to him.

Coach Eben has just finished a very successful summer as Head Coach of Colby Sailfish and takes up the position of Lead Coach of the Junior White Group for the 2019 – 2020 season.

Coach Adrianna -

Adrianna Pilgrim, a former Trojan member, Coach and National level athlete is looking forward to re-joining the Trojan family where she had many amazing successes, memories and experiences. “I have been a swimmer for most of my life and was a part of the HTAC team for about eight years both as a swimmer and as a coach”.

“My coaching experience, time spent as an athlete, and education have encouraged me to focus on integrating sport with accessibility. In the past year, I have had the opportunity to help coach therapeutic horseback riding with the Bengal Lancers in Halifax, and have also had the opportunity to assist in organizing the Swim to Survive program in the spring. Both of these programs have made me realize the importance of sport in shaping childhood experiences with youth of all abilities. This year as a part of the HTAC team once again, I hope to promote accessibility, skill development, team building, and overall enjoyment of the sport with the swimmers I will be working with. I am looking forward to what this year will bring!”

Coach Adrianna is the Lead Coach of the Trojan Skills program and Assistant Coach for the Youth Groups for the 2019-2020 season.

Coach Riccardo

Originally from Italy, this is Coach Riccardo’s third season with HTAC. A former swimmer himself, Riccardo discovered a passion for coaching in 1998 and since then he has been dedicated to the sport of swimming. He has coached swimmers to both the junior and senior Italian Swimming championships and the World Masters championships. Before coming to Halifax, he lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he worked as assistant coach with the Lionville Community YMCA swim team. Coach Riccardo helped lead them to their first State Championship and helped qualify the largest number of athletes in the team's history to the USA YMCA National Championships.

Coach Amy

Halifax Trojans are delighted to welcome Amy Hartling. Coach Amy is a former HTAC swimmer and current member of the Dal Tigers Women’s Varsity Team who is returning to the Dalplex pool deck as a coach with the Trojans.

Amy developed her passion and love for swimming as a member of Bridgewater Barracudas, at the age of six years old before transitioning to year-round competitive swimming. While continuing to have success as a senior athlete, Amy returned to her age group club where she coached in both Assistant and Head Coach capacities.  Before Amy was a competitive swimmer, she was a competitive figure skater and has travelled all across Canada to compete. She ended her figure skating career when she devided to pursue her goals in swimming.

Coach Amy studies Nursing at Dalhousie University and is excited for her new role with the Trojans. Amy’s coaching roles will be with as an assistant with Trojan Skills and Aspire Groups for the 2019 – 2020 season.

Coach Mariah

Coach Mariah Swinkels has been involved in swimming for the past eleven years. Seven as a swimmer and four as a coach.

Coach Mariah I started as a volunteer, then took the level 1 coaching course and became an assistant coach with the Sackville Waves. Mariah developed that position for two years before joining the Bedford Beavers Summer Swim Team as an assistant coach, progressing to Co-Head Coach for the 2019 summer season where Mariah was Awarded Head Coach of the Year. 

Mariah recollects, “As a swimmer, my favourite events were 100fr, 50fly, and 100fly. I have also always loved swimming IM events. I am currently in my fourth year at Saint Mary’s University studying psychology and anthropology with the goal of becoming a social worker and continuing to work with youth. I have always loved getting involved in the community and can’t wait to be a part of the Trojan Club”.

Coach Mariah will perform an Assistant Coaching role with Aspire 1 & 2 Groups.

Coach Natasha

The Trojans are excited to welcome Coach Natasha Ashby for the 2019-2020 season.

Natasha been the assistant coach of the Colby Sailfish Summer Swim Team for the past three seasons and is beginning her second year at Dalhousie University where she’s majoring in Actuarial Science.

Natasha started swimming when she was 8 years old, “I swam for ten years, seven with a Summer Club and three with the Dartmouth Crusaders. My favourite stroke is freestyle and my favourite event was always the 400 free! I’m also a lifeguard at the Dalplex so when I’m not coaching, you’ll probably still see me on the deck! I’m so excited to start working with the Trojans and to continue progressing my coaching development.”