A special kind of team

Fun times at the Ravensong pool show what kind of a team Campbell runs for the Breakers

RAC Breakers’ head coach John Campbell and graduating swimmer Alex Rocheleau share a moment away from the pool.

That the Breakers continue to put the area on the speed swimming map has a lot to do with the man at the helm, and a local mom wants people to know it.

RAC Breakers’ head coach John Campbell, 58, just wrapped up his 11th season with the local club.

“I don’t think people realize the kind of coach he is,” an emotional team mum Susan Hirmer told The News on Sunday. “It’s just more than coaching — he really cares for the kids, and what a difference it makes in their lives.”

Susan has logged a lot of miles overt the past six years driving her daughter Alex and being part of the Breakers’ support crew.

“When some of the team went bungy jumping he went to watch. He went to Alex’s three hour commencement ceremony, and he went to another girl’s prom parade. He just goes of his way to be part of their lives, and not just the swimming.

“When Alex was doing her 400, her last swim of her life in the pool (as a Breaker), she was giving it her all but she was in last place, and John was cheering her on. He was okay that she wasn’t first, second, third or fourth, and he was giving her the A OK sign. I was there, and that really got me,” said Sue, adding, “as much as he’s whistling and cheering her on, he was so just so proud of her for being in that race. It wasn’t just about winning, it was about being a coach that has compassion and admiration, and that’s huge.”

“I’m probably one of the more animated coaches in the country,” Campbell conceded when asked about his coaching style. “I think it’s a very exciting sport and I love to watch kids excel, and you know when you look at our bench, we always seem to be having the most fun, too.”

Further to our story on the Breakers’ results from the BC Long Course and Open Water Championships, Susan explained how Alex “swam her butt off,” to catch up to teammate Lindsey Romkes during the 5K open water swim, and the two friends and teammates swam the final lap side by side, with Lindsey easing off the gas at the finish line so that her teammate could cap off her career with a bronze medal.

“And that right there speaks volumes about what kind of team (the Breakers) are,” said Sue.


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