After revelling in its 2019 ‘Club of the Year’ win last month, the Ballarat Swimming Club now has another reason to celebrate, with its head coach, Kirsten Lowe-Jobornik gaining her Advanced coaching accreditation.
The mother of two, who took up the top job eight months ago and has been coaching since she was a teenager, said she was very proud of her accomplishment.
“I think it’s a really exciting achievement, swimming has always been a passion for me,” she said.
“I’ve spent a lot of time coaching, since I was 17 years old, and to be able to work my way up through that to an advanced accreditation is a nice milestone – it’s the accumulation of all the things I’ve done over the years all coming together and being awarded,” she said.
A passionate swimmer herself, Lowe-Jobornik not only juggles her responsibilities as a mother and head coach, but also her role as an anatomy lecturer at ACU in Ballarat – however she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I was a swimmer and just loved it. I was the sort of swimmer who just loved training, racing, I loved the whole process, so I wanted to get into the other side of it,” she explained.
“I started assisting and helping out at my club and then I went and studied sport science at university and coached all through uni and just loved it.
“It’s been something I’ve kept doing despite having other careers outside of that, coaching has always just been a passion.
“I’ve got two little kids aged one and three, so it’s a balance, but I guess you have to be passionate about it to want to do that, so swimming has always just been that real passion for me, something I really enjoy doing.”
An inspiration to those around her, Lowe-Jobornik reiterated the challenges faced by female coaches and hopes the obstacles will ease over time.
“I think it’s still those traditional barriers of having families. I know when I first had my son people said to me ‘oh you’ll have to give up coaching now because it’s going to be too hard’, and that’s sort of the expectation and it’s not easy. But it’s the same as anything else, if you want to do it then you’ll find time and I hope that with more female coaches getting into those roles it encourages women to look at ways to get through those challenges.”
With Swimming Australia and the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA) jointly unveiling Australian swimming’s rebranded Accreditation Levels and redesigned Coach Education Courses earlier this year, this new system – with online courses – has enabled coaches like Lowe-Jobornik to gain a higher accreditation.
The initiative strengthens coach development for swimming, optimise performances and aids the retention of exceptional coaches across the country.
Lowe-Jobornik said while the new process was different, she believed it was more applicable to skills needed in today’s coaching landscape.
“It’s definitely different and a different system to what I’d previously taken part in,” she said.
“I do think it’s more relevant to the skill sets which has been a good experience for me. Being able to bring in a lot more of my skills from my university days and my experiences throughout my coaching career to put towards my accreditation has been really valuable – so I’ve enjoyed the new system and I think it’s quite relevant to the qualifications and what you need in the role.”
The Ballarat Swimming Club has undergone some huge changes over the past year and Lowe-Jobornik credits all the hard work and countless hours members of the club have contributed.
“It’s amazing, I think the club has gone through a huge transformation in the last 12 months, but I think it’s reward for all the effort,” she said.
“I think there’s been a lot of people, definitely the president and committee that have put in a lot of extra hours. It’s a great reward for our community to change the club, so it’s amazing and it great to see women in leadership roles across all aspects of the club and great for our young girls as well.”
The future looks bright for the Ballarat Swimming Club, with their aim to be one of the “premier clubs in Victoria”.
“We want to be a premier club in Victoria and Australia and there’s no reason we can’t be,” Lowe-Jobornik said.
“We’re in a large regional centre, we’ve got a large population out here and amazing facilities, so there’s no real barriers other than providing a high-quality program so that’s what we’re trying to do.
“Hopefully over the next five or so years we can really lift the standard of the program and be one of the top clubs at state championships and hopefully taking a big team to nationals.”