TERRIFIC TRIO: Kareena Lee, John Rodgers, Nick Sloman, in 2018.
TERRIFIC TRIO: Kareena Lee, John Rodgers, Nick Sloman, in 2018.

Acclaim for committed Noosa swim coach

SWIMMING: Reigning Australian 10km champion Nick Sloman says John Rodgers’ enthusiasm has helped him become a much better athlete.

The latter was on Friday recognised as the Australian Swimming Coaches And Teachers Association open water swimming coach of the year for the second year running, after guiding Kareena Lee to seventh place at the world championships and propelling Lee and Sloman to national titles.

Sloman, 22, said he was motivated to swim well with Rodgers as his guide at Noosa Swim Club.

“It definitely helps to have someone that has a passion like JR.

“There’s a reason he’s still going at the age of 82. He lives and breathes swimming and that really comes across to all his swimmers and it just makes training way more enjoyable.

“Because of that passion, he wants the best out of his swimmers, and if he wins or loses with us, he always tries to improve us.”

Rodgers, who underwent open heart surgery last year following the discovery of a tear in his aorta, has coached the likes of Bronte Barratt, Kyle Palmer, Leith Brodie and Trent Grimsey.

Sloman says it’s Rodgers’ ability to adapt which has helped him stay at the forefront of the sport.

“He’s been coaching for 50-plus years and he’s coached many legends, and the good thing about him is he’s moved with the times.

“Some of the old coaches in the past have kept to their roots and kept old school but the reason why JR is still going today is that he’s evolved and got better throughout the years.”

Sloman said he’s pushed at training by Rodgers.

“He certainly knows how to get the most out of us. He’s got a reputation for being a hard taskmaster but he’s a softie at heart.

“He’s definitely getting the most out of our performance in the water.”

But they haven’t been able to see each other in recent months due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Sloman has instead spoken to his coach on the phone and received handwritten plans for swimming in the bay and, more recently, for the pool.

Sloman has been doing laps at St Andrew’s Aquatic Centre, where there are limits on attendance.

“I’m just following a piece of paper really so it has been difficult but hopefully I can get back on the pool deck with him soon,” Sloman said.

Sloman is eyeing Olympic selection.

He initially appeared to miss his chance with a disappointing result in a world series race at Doha in February but the most consistent Australian performer during the past couple of years expects a new qualifying stage to be held next year, after the Olympics and a key qualifier were postponed.

Sloman is also keen to press his claims in the pool, via the 1500m. Lee has already booked her berth at Tokyo.

Club-mate Lee has already booked her berth at Tokyo after a top-10 berth at the world championships.



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