Jacob Bell, who made his state swimming debut at the 2019 McDonald's Queensland Championships, with coach Mark Erikson.
Jacob Bell, who made his state swimming debut at the 2019 McDonald's Queensland Championships, with coach Mark Erikson.

Coach wins award after decades of pre-dawn wake-ups

CANNONVALE Cannons swimming coach Mark Erikson was awarded for his coaching skills at the 2019 McDonald's Queensland Championships but maintained that 20 years of pre-dawn wake-ups was worth it regardless of the accolades.

Mr Erikson received an award from the Queensland Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Federation for being the 2019 Emerging Age Championships Coach after coaching Mikhalia Flint to bronze in the 200m individual medley, 50m freestyle and 100m butterfly last week.

He also received an award for his coaching efforts at the Australian Age Championships in April this year after Mikhalia Flint took out first place in the 200m freestyle.

However, Mr Erikson maintained that his love of swimming and ability to help his students achieve their goals was the main motivation behind more than two decades of coaching.

"I enjoy teaching kids a sport that I love and at the end of the day that's what it's all about," he said.

"I've just never been away from a pool - I've always loved swimming and I just want to help kids achieve their goals and inspire them to achieve a little bit higher than they thought they could.

"I'm here to help them to achieve that level and encourage them to go a little higher, but they've got to want it.

"It's up to them to do it but I'm there to help them."

 

Mikhalia Flint, coach Mark Erikson and Jy Parkinson at the 2019 McDonald's Queensland Championships in Brisbane.
Mikhalia Flint, coach Mark Erikson and Jy Parkinson at the 2019 McDonald's Queensland Championships in Brisbane.

 

Mr Erikson said that coaching was not for night owls as a routine of 4:30am alarms woke him up even on his days off.

"The body clock doesn't switch off," he said.

On a typical day Mr Erikson said he would be poolside by 5:10am and work through to 7:30pm, but that helping both children and adults achieve their swimming goals was the driving factor behind his dedication.

Among Mr Erikson's most recent swimming successes was coaching Jy Parkinson, Mikhalia Flint and Jacob Dewis to nationals following their personal best swims at the state championships last week.

Mr Erikson also said Jacob Bell "smashed virtually every swim" in what was his state championship debut.

But he said the highlight of his coaching career so far was coaching "any kid that achieves their goal whether it's making it to nationals and winning, swimming state or making it to schools."

"It's not about me it's about them," he said.

"To see that excitement and just to be part of that is great."