Masters Swimming Canada is pleased to recognize Nancy Black, Head Coach of the Aurora Master Ducks Swim Club with an Excellence in Coaching Award
Nancy Black, recipient of an Excellence in Coaching award, with Nigel Kemp, MSC President.
The Aurora Master Ducks Swim Club had its humble beginnings in 1999. Obtaining local pool time whenever and wherever she could, Nancy was the driving force behind starting a program to ensure an opportunity for adults to have access to a formalized swimming program for both fitness and competitive purposes. The club began with 18 members and Nancy as the head coach. Today, the Aurora Master Ducks program boasts one of the largest masters clubs in Canada with over 200 swimmers, including 16 of the 18 original members. With specific training components for stroke development, fitness, competitive as well as junior and adult triathlon programs, there is truly something for everyone. No swimmer is ever turned away from "trying out" the Ducks program, and there have never been any ability criteria to join the club. Nancy's warm and welcoming coaching style has brought many a non-swimmer to the pool deck, some of whom are now competing at provincial and national level competitions in swimming and in triathlon.
In 1999, the Ducks participated in their first National Championship, sending 6 swimmers. Nancy participated as both a swimmer and coach, and the club, in its infancy, enjoyed the honor of finishing dead last in the overall standings! Fast forward 10 years to the National Championships in 2009. As a co-hosting club, the Aurora Ducks finished in second place and set an unofficial record of having the most swimmers ever to compete at Nationals, with 105 participants. The club has been a consistent top three finisher at both Provincials and Nationals for the past several years. Through Nancy's ongoing commitment and leadership, the Ducks have truly established themselves as one of the most successful masters swimming programs in the country.
Since 1999, the Ducks have had representation at every Ontario Provincial and National Championship meet. 2005 remains a stellar year in Ducks history, with the team winning both the Ontario Provincial Championships and the Canadian National Championships. In 2006, with Nancy's encouragement and guidance, the Ducks sent its own team of 30 swimmers to the World Championships in California where they represented not only Aurora, but Ontario and Canada, with pride. Through all of these milestone moments over the years, Nancy has always stood at the helm of the club, encouraging excellence from all of the members in every aspect of masters swimming. To date, the Ducks proudly hold 24 individual and 17 relay Canadian national records and one individual world record.
While Nancy has led the Ducks to many successes in the pool, her accomplishments out of the pool may speak even more prominently to her abilities to demonstrate excellence in a coaching role. In 2006 Aurora opened its new recreational facility including a beautiful 25 meter, 8 lane pool. Nancy played an extremely vital role in securing local support and funds for this new facility, lobbying and petitioning loudly and tirelessly for many years at the municipal and regional levels. Nancy's involvement in this initiative was hugely instrumental in bringing the facility to Aurora for all of its citizens to enjoy.
Ever the champion of promoting the sport of swimming to all, Nancy began a small, local swimming program for athletes with developmental disabilities in 2006. Today, as a fully fledged member of Special Olympics Ontario, the Special Ducks swim club has approximately twenty five members and is currently in the process of expanding to include other sports under its umbrella. Both the executive and the coaches for this program are provided by a volunteer base of Master Ducks swimmers, many of whom, with Nancy's encouragement, are now level 1 NCCP trained Special Olympic coaches.
Nancy's leadership within the community does not stop there. The Aurora Master Ducks are well known throughout the York Region for their many volunteer efforts. They are ongoing supporters of many local charities including Big Brothers and Sisters, Canadian Blood Services, local women and children's shelters, as well as participating in numerous community events including an annual (often award winning!) float in the Aurora Santa Claus parade in conjunction with the Special Ducks swim team. In 2005, following the untimely death of master swimmer Dr. Hui Lee in the previous year, Nancy made it her personal mission to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation in his memory. At the 2005 Provincial Championships, the Aurora Master Ducks proudly made a donation of over $10,000 on behalf of Anne Lee of the Soo Polar Bears swim club. This gesture established a close bond between the two clubs which resulted in an official "twinning" of the two teams at a celebratory dinner during the 2008 National Championships in Quebec City.
In the summers of both 2008 and 2009, Nancy volunteered an extraordinary amount of her personal time to coach a young fifteen year old local swimmer named Jade Scognamillo. Jade's "Swim 4 Life" campaign was her personal quest to raise money for Sick Children's Hospital by completing swims of Lake Erie in 2008 and Lake Ontario in 2009. In addition to Nancy's already intensive commitment to her swim club, she took on this additional challenge with her usual vigor and enthusiasm. Nancy coached Jade to complete both swims successfully and raise over $30,000 for the neo-natal unit at Sick Kids.
Nancy's dedication to her community has not gone unnoticed by those outside the swimming world. She has been a three time recipient of the Aurora Civic Award as well as having been chosen as Woman of the Year in Sports in York Region.
In addition to her community involvement, Nancy is currently a member of the board of Masters Swimming Canada. Both Nancy and two of her assistant coaches have also sat on past boards of Masters Swimming Ontario. Nancy is an NCCP Level 2 certified coach and is an enthusiastic proponent of the benefits of the sport of swimming at all levels within the Aurora community.
Nancy's individual achievements cannot go without mention as well. Nancy has been an extremely accomplished competitive swimmer throughout her entire life. As a nationally ranked age group swimmer, she competed in two Olympic trials and several national level competitions. As a master's swimmer, Nancy has medaled at three World Championships in 1994, 1996 and 2006. Although her first love may be coaching, she cannot resist the call of competition to this day, and will always slyly enter a few events at Provincials and Nationals, throwing on her suit at the last minute, without a warm up (or any training at all for that matter!) and still managing to consistently place at the top of her age group.