AIS’ Elevate to Coach Program Welcomes Two Dolphins

16 September 2021
Rick Pendleton hits the wall at the 2012 London Paralympics.

Two Australian Dolphins, Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Rick Pendleton are making the transition from swimmer to coach after successfully getting into the AIS’ Elevate to Coach program.


The program collaborates with leading tertiary institutions to deliver professional development for two focus groups of pathway coaches: one for female coaches; and another for former high-performance athletes now focused on coaching.


Thomas Fraser-Holmes

After entering the world swimming stage as a 17-year-old, dual Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Fraser-Holmes, says this program is helping shape his career post swimming and giving him a behind the scenes perspective of the sport he loves.


“It’s exciting to transition into coaching,” Fraser-Holmes said. 


“I’m committed to learning the art of coaching. Just because you’ve been a successful athlete doesn’t mean you have mastered the craft, I’m excited to perfect that. I think it will be crucial for my coaching development.”


Knowing he has passion and enthusiasm for swimming, Fraser-Holmes found the transition to coaching enticing.


“Once I read through the criteria, the AIS program was something I was keen and excited to do,” he explained.


“I’ve had some incredible coaches over my athletic career, so I am enthusiastic to use the knowledge I learnt from them as well as the knowledge I observed at international meets.” 


The program seeks to provide a bespoke blend of face-to-face and online support and development to Performance Pathway coaches that is based around the principles of integrative knowledge transfer.


This process allows the elevated coaches to work collaboratively with experienced coaches from the outset to individualise learning outcomes in collaboration with La Trobe University, University of Sydney and University of Queensland. 


Rick Pendleton

Like Fraser-Holmes, Pendleton is no stranger to competing on the world stage. The four-time Paralympian and three-time Paralympic gold medallist first competed in 1998 and is ready to use his experience to encourage and provide a pathway into the sport like he had.


“I got into it (coaching) off the back of trials this year. I met with Brendan Keogh and Greg Towle, and they brought up the idea of the program as a transition out of elite sport to a coaching role,” he said. 


“I’ve been coaching for 7-8 years, so the transition to full-time coaching has been gradual.”


Providing the next generation of swimmers with opportunities is something that Pendleton is incredibly passionate about and what started his hunger to coach.


“Providing the pathway for everyone to get the great opportunity I had is something I am passionate about,” he added.


“Swimming put me on my own pathway and now I want to be able to do the same for the next generation of swimmers.”


The unique feature of this program is that whilst content will be focused on Performance Pathway coaching knowledge of holistic athlete development, specific content has not been pre-determined.


Leading female coach and Olympian, Janelle Pallister, successfully completed the pilot program last year.


Swimming Australia extends its congratulations to Tom and Rick on this incredible achievement.




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