Swim club hires new coach

The Fort Frances Aquanauts have a new coach.
Local resident Tristan Hutton was hired earlier this month to fill the head coaching position left vacant when previous coach Roman Ramirez was let go by the swim team due to financial constraints.
The Aquanauts’ job represents Hutton’s first foray into the world of coaching. But while he lacks coaching experience, he believes he’s more than prepared for the challenge due to his extensive background as a competitive swimmer.
“This will be the first time I will be in charge of a swim team,” he admitted. “I don’t have any coaching level at this point, I will be probably be getting my Level 1 this fall.
“But I do strongly believe that the experience I’ve had over the past 20 years makes up for that.”
In addition to his wealth of experience as a competitive swimmer, Hutton has several other factors working in his favour.
Aquanauts president John Dutton said the new coach has excellent communication skills—a desirable attribute for any coach, but especially in one who will be working with a young club.
“He’s a really good communicator,” Dutton said. “He’s a good people person. He’s a creative thinker.”
Hutton also is extremely familiar with many of the Aquanauts swimmers, having been active within the club on a volunteer basis for each of the past three seasons.
“As far as the ‘A’ and ‘B’ kids, he’s worked with those kids now for two full years and sporadically three years ago, as well,” Dutton noted.
“These past three years, he’s been pretty steady [attending practices] every Tuesday and Thursday, and some Saturdays.”
There also is the financial savings to the club. Hutton is being paid much less than what Ramirez was making—a necessity for the Aquanauts who are struggling to cope with rising pool costs.
Foremost on Hutton’s list of priorities upon taking the job is a desire to bring a sense of stability to the club given the tumultuous spring it just endured.
“I guess with the problems that we’ve been having with the swim team, I’d like to steady the ship right now,” Hutton said of his immediate goals.
“I don’t want people to wonder if there is going to be a swim club next season, or if things are going to quit in the middle of the summer or the winter.
“I want to give them that secure feeling.”
Apart from assuring both current and future Aquanauts swimmers that he is in it for the long haul, Hutton has a clear vision of how he’d like the club to operate.
His plan begins with establishing a strong relationship with the club’s older swimmers. “I’d like try and instill a level of confidence in the older swimmers,” he said.
“I want to get them to think for themselves,” he added. “Sometimes that’s often absent in a situation where you have a coach and a bunch of team members.”
Veteran Aquanauts then will be asked to help coach the younger members of the club, and act as a liaison between them and the head coach. According to Hutton, it will be more of a “coaching by committee” approach.
“I want to give the kids a steady approach to swimming, go back to the basics in the sense of looking at stroke technique, working on a lot of ideas to promote swimming with the swimmers themselves, and to try and get other people interested in the swim club,” he said.
Hutton plans to promote the Aquanauts within the community by stressing the fact the club is open to anyone.
“One thing we would like to emphasize for the upcoming year is that we are not uniquely a competitive swim team,” he remarked. “I’d like to invite any swimmer who’s interested in just improving on their swimming techniques, be it someone who is young or older.”
Like many Canadian kids, Hutton’s first experience with swimming came when his parents enrolled him in swimming lessons as a child growing up in Gatineau, Que. in the late 1970s.
While he enjoyed the swimming part of the lessons, Hutton didn’t have much patience for the actual lessons.
“I was always a little bit annoyed having to sit down and talk about stuff on the side of the pool before we went into the pool,” he admitted. “I was one that was very gung-ho to jump right in and spend the whole hour in the water.”
Hutton knew immediately that he’d found the sport he wanted to compete in.
“I knew right off the bat that an activity offering me the opportunity to swim often and a lot was going to be something that was definitely up my alley,” he said.
“Right then and there, I was hooked.”
At 12 years of age, Hutton joined his first swim team—Les Aquatiques de Gatineau. And within a year-and-a-half, he already had become one of its top swimmers.
Hutton continued to progress rapidly as both a swimmer and a competitor. He was a regular qualifier at junior national meets and by 1983 was ranked among the top 50 swimmers in Canada.
In his late teens, Hutton made the decision to attend the University of Montreal, where he competed in several Canadian Inter-university Athletic Union swimming championships.
As part of the team, Hutton had the opportunity to travel abroad to the United States, Caribbean, and South America for various meets.
Upon graduating from university, Hutton joined the Camo Club Aquatique Montreal Olympique—Montreal’s second-largest swim club.
He swam with the team for several years, but at that point was “in my decline.”
Shortly thereafter, Hutton took up Masters swimming.
“I got involved with swimming with people who were either ex-swimmers or people who were triathletes,” he noted. “They were interested in swimming for fitness level, but also to compete.”
He continued to enjoy great success at the Masters level, qualifying for the provincial or national championships every year between 1993-2001.
Hutton settled in Fort Frances in the late 1990s to work as a bush pilot. He has since married, with the couple currently expecting their second child.