Norris to guide development of High Performance Strategy for Alberta

Edmonton – November 14, 2017

Norris to guide development of High Performance Strategy for Alberta

Dr. Stephen Norris will be working closely with Swim Alberta over the next year to develop a sustainable long term High Performance and Performance Development Strategy that will support the development of our athletes through to 2024 and beyond.  In addition, Norris will help guide the work of the Alberta Technical Program Committee who has been charged with creating a short-term strategy to support high performance athletes to Olympic Trials in 2020. 

Norris is recognized as a leading authority on child and youth activity & athletic development, as one of the five founding contributors to the Canadian Sport for Life movement.  Dr. Norris was the Chief Sport Officer at WinSport, where he worked with a visionary team that laid the foundation for the WinSport Winter Sport Institute based in Calgary ad Canmore.  Previously, Stephen was the Director of Sport Physiology and Strategic Planning at the Canadian sport Centre – Calgary where he was focused on Canada’s Winter Olympic teams for three Olympic cycles.  Dr. Norris has roots in swimming where he has coached and served as on the board of directors of Swimming Canada from 2004 – 2007.

“Given the rich history of international success by Alberta-trained swimmers, the periodic review and evolution of competitive swimming practices in the province is simply part of the mindset and process for sustained performance” said Norris.  “Over the next 12 to 18 months, competitive swimming (training, competition, and supporting elements) will be examined with a view to establishing a clear guiding framework for performance swimming in Alberta. Obviously, if Alberta swims fast throughout the developmental age group pathway and then converts this base into senior performance swimming (as measured against the benchmark of world swimming), the dual objectives of recognized world level swimming by Alberta and Canada will be attained”

The commitment to supporting High-Performance Swimming in Alberta remains strong and Swim Alberta remains committed to developing a more effective model to support performance swimming and performance development swimming in Alberta.  In July, after consultation with members, the High Performance Program Initiative was paused to ensure the strategy was properly developed.  At a fireside chat held at the annual Swim Alberta conference and AGM in September the opportunity to gather with head coaches and presidents from across the province to discuss next steps occurred.  Coming out of the fireside chat, there was agreement to: 1) formalize a bridging short-term strategy to support performance swimming leading into Olympic Trials in 2020; and 2)  create and implement a long term High Performance and Performance Development Strategy to impact and support athletes through subsequent quadrennials (2024 and beyond). The third outcome of the fireside chat was agreement on the definition of High Performance:  Top 8 or performances leading to top 8 in the world.

“Dr. Norris comes with a very strong and successful background as a leading performance consultant and sport scientist,” said Cheryl Humphrey, Executive Director of Swim Alberta.  “His knowledge and experience will certainly lay the foundation in a strategy and initiatives for athletes to be able to compete at the highest levels of international swimming, as he identifies short, medium and long term initiatives to support high performance swimming in Alberta.”

The Alberta Technical Program Committee launched this fall has a mandate to advise Swim Alberta on technical matters in swimming as it relates to athlete technical and funding programs as well as coach development programs.  Norris will be working with the ATPC over the next year, in addition to Swim Alberta staff and stakeholders to guide the development of the strategy.   “This is the first time in recent memory that I recall Swim Alberta making an investment such as Dr. Norris in assisting and guiding the technical recommendations of the committee and programming decisions”, states Dave Macdonald, ATPC Chairperson.  MacDonald served as chair for three years previously on the former Alberta Coaches Council who had a similar mandate. The council worked alongside the High Performance Advisory Committee, that has now been combined into a single committee – Alberta Technical Program Committee.  The ATPC structure membership structure allows for both appointments from Swim Alberta and elected members by the coaching membership in the province.  “I am pleased with the decision to bring Norris into the fold, and support forward thinking solutions to support athletes and programs in Alberta.” 

Swim Alberta continues to strive to reach our vision that “every swimmer has the opportunity to reach their full potential”.   This vision cannot be done in isolation and continued collaboration and input will be sought from our many partners and stakeholders to ensure programs and services remain relevant and meet the needs of athletes and clubs in the province, while aligning with the Swim Alberta Strategic Plan. 

About Swim Alberta:
Swim Alberta is the governing body for competitive swimming in the province of Alberta.  Our mission is “govern, lead and support competitive swimming” to achieve our vision, “every swimmer has the opportunity to reach their full potential”.   Swim Alberta membership includes: 9200+ athlete members, 1000+ masters’ members, and 630 coach members.

For more information, please contact:
Cheryl Humphrey,
Executive Director, Swim Alberta