Speechley guides the stars of the future

FORMER elite New Zealand swim coach Leanne Speechley has returned to Sutherland Shire, having instant results at her first meet.

The former Aquadot Swim Team coach at Sutherland Leisure Centre has made her way back to the shire after almost two decades coaching at Kingscliff Swimming Club before being recruited by the Kiwis.

There she was head coach of Christchurch’s AquaGym Swim Club for three years and spent time coaching New Zealand national teams at several meets including junior Commonwealth Games teams.

‘‘The No.1 thing that brought me back home was family,’’ she said. ‘‘I felt the need to come home and I was keeping an eye on things back home. When the chance to go to NC Aquatic came up, I took it.’’

Speechley grew up at Heathcote and competed for Aquadot before moving into coaching.

While none of the Kiwis’ 13 Olympics medals came from the pool this year, Speechley said at the junior level her former charges stood tall on the world stage.

‘‘When I first arrived in New Zealand I felt they were a little bit behind but in the end what I found was that the age group levels are pretty standard across the world,’’ Speechley said.

‘‘Australia  definitely  lead the way against New Zealand but in terms of a comparison, the age group ranks are pretty good.

‘‘After that though the Kiwis don’t have as much money at the open level and a lot of the good Kiwi kids can’t afford to continue swimming.’’

At the Metropolitan South East Swimming Championships, her first meet since taking over the club, North Cronulla finished with 38 gold medals, 18 silver and 21 bronze, setting 17 meet records.

‘‘There’s a lot of talent coming through the club,’’ Speechley said.

‘‘There is a core base of 12 to 15 year olds that have a good amount of ability, it has a very strong future.

‘‘We’ve got the coaches and the passion and great families that support us, we just need better facilities.’’

The swimmers’ next big meet is  the state titles at Sydney Olympic Park on January 5.

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