When legendary swimming coach, John ‘JR’ Rodgers, arrived at the Noosa Aquatic Centre on Saturday afternoon, he didn’t expect to see family, friends and athletes gathered in his honour.
The coach of open water athlete Kareena Lee – who won Australia's first medal in marathon swimming at the Olympics on Wednesday when she claimed bronze – was unable to travel to Tokyo but has fittingly been recognised by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC).
With an illustrious coaching career spanning more than 50 years, ‘JR’ was presented with an official Certificate of Recognition from the AOC for his contribution to the Tokyo Olympic Open Water Team and his outstanding service he has provided across the course of his career to the Australian Olympic Swimming Team.
Swimming Australia CEO, Alex Baumann, was on hand in Noosa to present ‘JR’ with the certificate.
Beginning his career at Heffron Pool in Sydney’s Maroubra, Rodgers has developed a deep and instinctual knowledge of swimming and has trained the likes of Olympic and Commonwealth Games athletes such as Max Metzker, Graeme Brewer, Ron McKeon and Moscow Olympic Gold medallist, Michelle Ford.
Around the swimming community Rodgers is idolised not only for his wonderful and successful coaching career, but for his exceptional character. He constantly strives to motivate competitiveness as well as challenge his athletes through a balance of quality and endurance.
Two-time Olympian Ron McKeon is exceptionally fond of Rodgers, highlighting the immense impact he has had on his life.
“My lifetime coach both in and out of the water – the biggest influence in my life along with my father,” McKeon said.
“With a no-nonsense approach that endeared him to his athletes and peers over his 50+ years of coaching, he is one of the most passionate and professional people on the pool deck, he would swim, run or ride through a brick wall with and for his athletes.”
Rodgers has been involved in four Olympic Teams and has received the Australian Swim Coach of the year three times.
The Open Water Marathon events will take place at the Odaiba Marine Park in Japan on 4-5 August.