Dual Olympian Martin Roberts teaching participants of the four strokes: butterfly, back stroke, breast stroke and free style.

A great start for Vanuatu Aquatics Federation (VAF) as it opened the year with an Advanced Swimming Instructors Course during the first week of February 2017, at Bellevue.

Local swimming instructors gathered to learn skills and knowledge from Olympian Swimmer and Coach Martin Roberts who was in Port Vila recently. VAF and Wan SmolBag teamed up to attend the course.

The local instructors had the opportunity to be upskilled and develop their knowledge of swimming particularly the transfer of swimming from Learn-to-Swim program to more squad base swimming by the Canberra-based dual Olympian Swimmer and triple Olympian Gold Medalist Martin Roberts.

The Olympian told Daily Sports, “The week focused on assisting the Instructors that work under the “Lets Swim” Curriculum onto teaching more advanced techniques and knowledge around swimming and in particular technical swimming.

“We covered the four swimming strokes: butterfly, back stroke, breast stroke and free style. We also did starts, turns, and I talked to them generally about planning sessions, and about coaching. The work I am delivering is to a smaller group of instructors. They can all swim and have a good foundation in swimming.

“It is a start and it is important to have lots of different levels of development in swimming, and in all sports. We have people teaching people to swim from scratch, but also have the opportunity to work with people who want to swim more, and want to have much better techniques and be able to work with them to be able to develop those techniques. So it is very important that people have the knowledge to be able to teach correctly and coach correctly and this was what it was about this week.

Coach Martin explained how he learnt a lot from our country in regard to swimming. Vanuatu’s context in swimming was either water ways, lagoons, in the harbour or in the sea compared to swimming in the many swimming pools in Australia. Taking on board and understanding the different aquatic context was important as well to allow adaptions, programs and skills towards a meaningful environment.

The Swimming Coach admired the local participants’ keen interest and willingness and how they worked hard with deep dedication. Olympian Martin Roberts is a triple Commonwealth Gold Medalist in Swimming and currently working for Sport for Development. He has worked for more than 30 years in Sport and look forward to long-term relationship with VAF.

VAF’s Instructor and Development Officer Frank Vira said, “It was a totally new level of skill learning for me on advanced swimming, I was mostly involved with Learn-to-Swim skills.

“The new level was more of a competition level, how well you can swim and applying the right techniques of the four swimming strokes.

“I met Coach Martin when I watched the Oceania Championship in Fiji last year. I watched with interest but did not know much about swimming competitions and what styles swimming competitors applied.

“I am happy Coach Martin is here with us coaching us right skills and techniques and how we as instructors can further coach the athlete swimmers to become good swimmers in competitions.”

Betty Benson was also excited of the many new skills she learnt during the week. “My first task after this course is to do a monthly session plan to implement the knowledge learned”.

Benson learned that beyond the competitive swimming you can have fun, maintain one’s fitness, swimming was good for lungs, handle water safety and how you can save another using the free swimming styles.

The Head of Vanuatu Aquatics Federation (VAF) Nancy Miyake explains why the strokes were essential in the transition.

“Understanding the 4 competitive strokes from the most basic level of Learn-to-Swim to competitive squad swimming is essential for a swim instructor and a swim coach. VAF’s Development Officers have been well trained in Learn to Swim and are now progressing on to develop their technical knowledge of squad swimming.

“The training they took part in with Martin Roberts will help them better develop community clubs/squads by training community coaches in the 4 strokes and how to teach them.

“VAF continues its outreach program in 2017 on East Coast Efate and are exploring several new Efate Communities and offshore island communities. If interested, please contact Frank Vira at WSB 27119.”

Olympian Martin Roberts conveyed his gratitude to Oceania Swimming, Vanuatu Aquatics Federation, Wan Smolbag, Nambawan Café for providing food during the week, and particularly the kind hospitality from the people of Vanuatu.

Raymond Nasse

Sports Editor


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