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Swimmers crawl to Europe3 min read

Jun 9, 2023 2 min

Swimmers crawl to Europe3 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Swimming coach Ben Amaro (front) with the swimmers L-R: Maggie Behrend, Anne-Marie Drillien, Kirsty Sesto, Raewyn Sexton, Vince Sesto, Kylie Brown, Kieran Coates, Terry Jack, Martin Ralph, Andrew Shultz, Simon Carroll

A group of dedicated adult swimmers meet several times a week to train at Onehunga War Memorial Pool (Jellicoe Park), and some of them are even taking their skills to international multi-sport events.

Kylie Brown is one of these, and recently competed in a triathlon in Spain, despite only swimming seriously for seven years. Like the others, Kylie trains under the experienced and supportive eye of swimming coach, Ben Amaro, and says he has been very encouraging and supportive, even kayaking alongside her when she took on an ocean swim around Motukorea (Browns Island).

“I’ve trained with Ben for seven years consecutively now,” she says. “I came down here just to learn how to swim because I didn’t know how to put two strokes together.”

She took to the sport like a duck to water, and has even competed in triathlons. “I rode my first triathlon on a very funny old bike and did breaststroke and I just got hooked.”

Kylie says training with the group at Jellicoe Pools helps keep her motivated, and there is healthy competition among the swimmers.

“Getting out of bed and knowing you’re going to get in the pool is not always easy. But knowing that you’re coming down here and you’re looked after and there’s a whole squad of people that you enjoy hanging out with definitely makes it easier.”

Kieran Coates and Terry Jack agree, and both joined the squad about three years ago. Both men are training for a World Triathlon Championship event in Europe, with Kieran heading to Hamburg, Germany in July and Terry going to Pontevedra, Spain, in September. Kieran is getting back into the sport after an eight year hiatus, and spent his youth involved in top level triathlon.

“In the last two years I’ve been really knuckling down and been winning a few races again,” he says.

Terry joined the squad after lockdown, and says “Ben has really helped me improve and I’ve just been non-stop since then.”

Ben began swimming at age six, becoming an elite swimmer before becoming a teacher and coach. This has been a true passion for 25 years now, with a decade of this at Onehunga.

“It’s a place I really like. I love the four core values of The Y – respect, care, responsibility and honesty.”

He has taught swimming from beginners to advanced, ‘from aged 5 to 78’, including members of the Onehunga Tri-Squad. He says there is a difference between teaching and coaching.

“With the former, you teach basic skills and basic technique; the latter, you improve the skills and ‘polish’ them to become automatic movements and technical skills taking the swimmers to high performance level.

“Swimming is a great physical activity and sport, with benefits for physical and mental health, and a skill that can keep you safe in any aquatic environment.”