Jamaican swim coach makes mark in Canada

...Jacky Beckford-Henriques named Men's Team Coach of the Year

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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FORMER Jamaican technical director and head coach of Varsity Swimming, Jacky Beckford-Henriques (formerly Jacky Walter) recently earned her first major coaching accolade when she was named Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Men's Team Coach of the Year.

The award was bestowed upon Beckford-Henriques after her University of Waterloo Warriors gave an impressive display at the recently concluded three-day OUA Swimming Championships at Brock University.

The Warriors men, moving up from fifth last year, placed second overall with 575.5 points behind University of Toronto (982.5 points), while the women improved their sixth-placed finish last year, improving to fourth overall with 403.5 points. University of Toronto also won the female section with 1,160 points.

In addition to that, the Waterloo Warriors copped 15 medals overall — three gold, three silver and nine bronze medals — setting 10 new school records in the process. The Warriors also bettered the U-Sport Championship standards 22 times.

While basking in the accomplishments, Beckford-Henriques reflected on how it all started and paid tribute to those who continue to contribute to her success as a university coach.

“It certainly was an exciting weekend for the Waterloo Warriors and certainly a great honour for me because I have never gotten such an honour before in my swimming career. I would like to thank Tony Morrison, who has always had confidence in my ability even when I lacked it sometimes. He had predicted this before the championship,” Beckford-Henriques shared.

“I have been in Canada five years now. I met Andrew Cole, who was the head coach at McMaster University once and after that meeting, his wording to me was I have to find a way to get you here and he finally did.

“It took a year or two but it was also a great start because he himself is a super coach, having coached at the Olympic level. So it was a good start and he still continues to mentor me along the way and of course my son Dominic Walter has also been a strong motivation,” she added.

Beckford-Henriques pointed to a few changes that she made since her arrival at Waterloo and that she believes assisted significantly in the athletes getting the job done in the pool.

“I think one of the main things that I have done is try to increase the support staff and certainly at the OUA championships, it was the best it has been in my time there and I believe this is vital for the success of any team.

“We need to have the support staff so that when I had swimmers, for example, who need to be fleshed out after a swim, I don't have to be the one doing it or even think about how I am going to organise it because the personnel is there to do it,” she noted.

Lukas Wormald won the Dr Jeno Tihanyi award for winning both the 200-metre and 400-metre individual medley (IM) events in times of 2:02.62 and 4:23.57 minutes, respectively, and was also named Rookie of the Year.

Katie Ivancic won the female OUA Community Service Award, while Josie Andres, who won the 50m butterfly, Christina Ji, gold and bronze medal winner in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, were among the other top names for Beckford-Henriques's team.

Cameron McCuaig broke two Canadian Para Records in 50m and 100m backstroke in the S9 category with times of 30.86 and 1:06.86, taking his national record tally to three since training with Beckford-Henriques.

“I can't leave out Jyasi Daniel from St Lucia; he had personal bests in his 50m and 100m butterfly, posting 59.74 and 26.74, respectively. I really enjoyed having a Caribbean swimmer on the team; his goal is to represent St Lucia and I can certainly relate to that and it is certainly nice to have somebody you can have your Caribbean talk with,” Beckford-Henriques ended.

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