In Memory of Head Coach, Gordon Shaw

 

 

                                                                                                                  

The Mandurah Swimming Club is deeply saddened at the news of the passing of our Head Coach, Gordon Shaw on Saturday September 8, 2018. Gordon was a huge personality in our club and the wider swimming community after coaching for over 30 years for a variety of clubs.  In just over three years with our club his passion and experience helped turn our swimmers around and was starting to see the results he craved for his athletes both in the pool and as future leaders in the sport.

Gordon met with a selection of our committee in 2015 when we were looking for a new coach. His professionalism, preparation and knowledge were what we needed for our club at this stage after a couple of changes in coaching staff. The swimmers struggled at first as Gordon laid down the law and started to whip the squad into shape, but after a short time they started to see the results and came around to his style of coaching.

He demanded his swimmers put in the effort at training and this would reward them with the results they were searching for. If you did not put in 100% he had a way of letting you know. Although not everyone saw eye to eye with Gordon all the time, he earned everyone’s respect and got the best out of our swimmers to help them achieve. His sense of humour was lost on several of the swimmers for a while, but for the ones that clicked they enjoyed this from the start. They also enjoyed his encouragement and approval, which often came in the form of lemon sherbets. Gordon mellowed over this time and speaking to swimmers he coached in the past, he had mellowed a lot over the years. We are told that once upon a time, he was a perfect shot at skimming a kickboard to get someone’s attention when required!

Swimming as a sport is a lonely game but the social side of the lanes is what keeps the kids in the water, Gordon knew this and always looked to make the time in and out of the water exciting and enjoyable. Through variety in the drills the hours spent following the black line was made easier for his swimmers. They were even allowed to chat and joke between sets. But when the swimmers needed to work there was no time or air for talking. It was off again. Gordon pushed his Captains to organise events out of the pool and they loved nothing more than a night out for a meal or breakfast at Macca’s at the end of the season. The regard in which they held him is reflected in the fact that they always bought his breakfast. As a group they became closer and Gordon developed the chant often heard on pool deck at a swim meet as the group finished their warm up.

It wasn’t just the swimmers that Gordon had under his control. He always had time for a chat with the pool staff either during or after training. As he walked onto pool deck each morning, one of the staff would bring him a coffee. To this day we have not seen anyone else receive this service. Gordon was well known by the other patrons at the pool, and many a morning he would chat to them while waiting for his swimmers to arrive. He knew most of their names and they all knew Gordon.

Gordon had the ability to coach swimmers of any age. He coached the youngest of our swimmers at times and they tell of the enjoyment they had with Gordon in charge. He thought he was being hard on some, but they laughed and had a great time with his jokes and different drills.

One of Gordon’s biggest passions was to plan for the future. He believed in succession planning and said if a coach was not aiming for his Head Coach position then he was not doing his job. For this he encouraged his swimmers to help coach the squads and become qualified coaches. Every swimmer in his senior squads took turns at planning sessions at times during the year and running their session under Gordon’s watchful eye. The swimmers enjoyed their time out of the water, on pool deck next to their mentor helping the rest of their peers and at the same time picking up tips and growing their knowledge. Over the last 12 months, seven of his swimmers have undertaken coaching courses and are developing their own coaching skills. These trainee coaches help every week with the junior squads, building bonds across all swimmers within our club which is something Gordon has pushed since he came to Mandurah Swimming Club.

Gordon has helped countless swimmers over the years develop from nervous kids into confident young adults. We have had the pleasure of watching our members grow with their coach and our swimmers are heartbroken at the news of Gordon’s passing.

To a great coach, mentor, friend, and yes sometimes antagoniser, we say Good Bye.

Our deepest sympathy for Gordon’s sons, Steven and Nicolas in WA and family back in England at this difficult time. Gordon will never be forgotten by his swimmers and swimming family. His legacy will continue to guide our club and swimmers for many years to come.

An MSC Swimmer’s Prayer  (In memory of coach Gordon Shaw)

 

Our Gordon, who art in Heaven,

Head Coach be thy name.

In thy aquatic kingdom, thy will be done

In dry land, training and competition.

Give us each day, our daily sets,

And forgive us our weaknesses,

As we complain about drag training, fly sets and 1500s at time trials.

Lead us not into exhaustion,

But deliver us from slackness,

For the victories, PBs and medals are yours,

Forever in our hearts.

Amen

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