© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
New Prince Albert Sharks Swim Club head coach Hazem Hussein was putting the members of the Great Whites through their paces on Wednesday at the Frank Dunn Pool. Hussein was recently brought in as head coach to replace Stephen Hay, who returned home to New Zealand after two years with the club, and he will work with the Great Whites, the competitive swimmers aged 13-and-older. With more than 21 years of coaching experience in his native Egypt, he is hoping to get the Sharks into the upper echelons on the provincial swimming circuit.
There is a Shark alert at the Frank Dunn Pool!
The Prince Albert Sharks Swim Club held its final registration night on Wednesday and it looks like for the first time in recent memory that the lanes will be full to capacity.
“When I first became president two years ago we had 47 swimmers,” says Sharks president Shannon Hurl. “We have 46 returning from last year alone. We can maybe squeeze in 80… we hope to outgrow our pool someday.”
A big reason for the turnaround was the work done by former head coach Steven Hay. His philosophy was to build the team from the bottom up and Hurl says that plan remains in place with new head coach Hazem Hussein.
“We want to continue bringing in younger swimmers,” says Hurl.
Hussein, who is relocating to Prince Albert from Egypt, will guide the group known as the Great Whites, which is for competitive swimmers 13 years-of-age-and-older. Roger Boucher will coach the Tiger Sharks for 10-14 year olds and Regan Hamel will lead the Hammerheads, the youngest competitive group which is for seven to 11 year olds. There are also non-competitive groups known as cadets and nippers and these are for the younger swimmers who are just learning the fundamentals of the sport.
When Hay announced earlier this year that he was returning to New Zealand to get married, the Sharks put out the call for a new coach and Hussein’s name reappeared. A former national swimmer in Egypt, Hussein applied for the same position two years ago and this time he was offered the job.
With more than 20 years of coaching experience in both Egypt and the United Kingdom, Hussein hopes to move the Sharks to a higher standing on the provincial swimming scene.
“The club has the potential to develop themselves and to move forward,” explained Hussein shortly after his second training session with the Great Whites earlier this week.
“I want them to be one of the top three teams in the province,” added Hussein. “I want them to place some swimmers at provincials and nationals.”
Hussein, who has a doctorate in sports physiology, has only been in Canada for seven weeks and now that he has found a place to call home – he spent his first six weeks in Mississauga, Ont., and only arrived in Prince Albert on Friday – he will head back to Cairo in 10 days to retrieve his family and be back in the city in early October to begin his new career.
“It is a new challenge for me,” says Hussein. “With my academic background and experience as a coach I think I can help this club move forward.”
“Canada has been a wonderful country,” added Hussein. “It has an environment where you can be creative. With the right environment and facilities, you can’t lose. You just have to work hard.”
All members of the Sharks will have a busy season, which will culminate in March when Prince Albert hosts the provincial “A” championships along with the Junior Cup. These are the same two events that were to be held here last March, but had to be awarded to another centre when the city experienced major water problems and the pool had to be shut down for an extended period of time.
The Sharks are a hungry group and Hussein is the hand that will be feeding them.