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Novak to round out HPC-Ontario staff as assistant coach

Photo of Rob Novak / Photo de Rob Novak

TORONTO – Swimming Canada is bolstering the staff at its High Performance Centre – Ontario with the addition of Rob Novak as assistant coach.

Novak will assume the post in November after wrapping up his duties with Etobicoke Swim Club, where he serves as head coach.

“We are delighted to have Rob join Swimming Canada as the assistant coach at the High Performance Centre – Ontario, based at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. We know he will bring commitment and drive to the centre,” said Swimming Canada High Performance Director and National Coach John Atkinson.

Novak will work alongside Head Coach Ryan Mallette, with an integrated support team led by Swimming Canada Manager, Physical Performance, Johnny Fuller.

“I’m honoured and excited to be part of HPC-Ontario and looking forward to working with everyone,” said Novak, a member of Canada’s coaching staff at the recent Commonwealth Games and women’s head coach at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships.

“I hope to bring a strong work ethic to Canada’s purpose to be world-class, top six nation at the world stage. I’m looking forward to collaborating and building a program that can be a source of pride for all Canadian swimming, clubs and alumni.”

Novak came to Etobicoke from Winnipeg’s Manta Swim Club in Aug. 2020 amid challenging circumstances. In addition to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Novak was succeeding longtime coach Kevin Thorburn, who died suddenly in April 2020. The club’s main home at the Etobicoke Olympium was also closed for extended maintenance. Training mainly at the 25-metre Memorial Pool, Novak managed to guide Etobicoke swimmers Ruslan Gaziev and Katrina Bellio to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic team. Another Etobicoke product, Summer McIntosh, made the team after transferring to HPC-Ontario during the pandemic.

“It wasn’t easy during the pandemic to have two Olympians in a 25-m pool, that’s the biggest highlight (of my career) I think,” Novak said. “I would hope to say I’m a disciplined but supportive coach. I care about getting the athletes to the next level, collaborating with them and driving them throughout the process. I’m more process driven than outcome.”

Prior to his two-year stint at Manta, Novak was head coach of Markham Aquatic Club from 2012 to 2018, helping Javier Acevedo to a spot on the Rio 2016 Olympic team. Atkinson commended Novak on his reputation across Canada and results placing athletes on national teams, and said he was happy to see a Canadian coach grow into a role such as this.

“Rob has been a part of our Swimming Canada coach development programs for a number of years, including the Select Coaches Group and Advanced Coached Group. Seeing him take this next step in his career is great news,” Atkinson said.

Mallette said he is looking forward to adding Novak to the program that has produced most of Canada’s senior international medals over the past few years.

“I think this is an important position in Canadian swimming and I’m happy to have one of the top Canadian coaches accept this role,” Mallette said. “Rob’s had a fantastic amount of success over the last several years coaching at Markham, Manta and Etobicoke. He’s shown he can produce athletes up to the senior team reliably. I’m excited for him to come on board and work with us to help our athletes get to the Olympic podium now.”

Meanwhile, Scott Talbot is expected to take over as head coach at the High Performance Centre – Vancouver next month, joining Assistant Coach Mandy Bell, who joined the University of British Columbia-based centre earlier this year.

“This rounds out the coaching staff at our Olympic Program High Performance Centres,” Atkinson said. “The focus now shifts to being ready for 2023 and ultimately the Olympic Games in 2024 and beyond. Swimming Canada is thankful for the continued support from Own the Podium, Sport Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee. They enable our support to athletes to continue in world-class daily training environments such as our centres at TPASC and UBC, on national teams and all our programming.”

Both centres are accepting applications for the 2023-2024 season. Prospective swimmers are encouraged to fill out this form to show their interest:


Story and photo courtesy of Swimming Canada.