New coach brings enthusiasm and ambition to Wagga Swim Club | Photos

He claims to have grown his former program from five swimmers to 200 and is hellbent on one day moulding an Olympian.

New Wagga Swim Club coach Gennadiy Labara is nothing if not bold.

The Ukrainian landed in Wagga last Wednesday, his enthusiasm and ambition instantly injecting life into a club which had gone through severe coaching instability and a drastic committee overhaul. 

Eager to find a new opportunity after a restructure at Dunedin’s Moana Pool prompted the end of his time in New Zealand, Labara is as happy to be with the Wagga club as they are to have him.

“There’s huge potential here,” Labara said.

“It’s a very promising club for the future.

“There’s a lot of strong kids and they enjoy swimming, they just need more development.”

Labara initially held his cards close to chest when asked about his plans for the club’s future.

“It’s a secret,” he said with a playful smile.

“Later on, you’ll see.”

But the newcomer was more open about his immediate plans.

“We’ve discussed with the parents and kids...the things we think are important for performance, and we are going through it now,” he said.

“I have 120 swimmers and I want to do a good quality job for all of them, simple.

“I’m hungry for wins.

“So I want to make sure the kids perform but also have fun.”

When discussing his ultimate goal, the Ukrainian did not hold back.

“I want to make an Olympic champion,” he said.

“I think all coaches who are coaching properly have a dream like this.”

Meanwhile, in landing their new coach, Wagga Swim Club have their old one to thank.

When previous coach Mihai Mandache left in September due to personal reasons after just two months on the job, he swiftly informed the club that he had the perfect replacement in mind, having crossed paths with Labara in New Zealand. 

It wasn’t long before the committee was in touch with the man who would become their future leader.

“We chatted over Skype, as best we could anyway,” Wagga Swim Club president Paul Gianniotis said.

When Labara visited the club in the following weeks, he made a big impression on the committee and the rest was history.

Gianniotis said he had been extremely impressed with the club’s latest addition.

“His expertise and demeanor are fantastic,” he said.

“I think we also have similar thought processes in terms of where we want to take the club.

“But we just like what he stands for, he’s in it for the best interests of the kids.”